Thursday, July 24, 2008


There is a story circulating this morning in Wellington that the Dominion Post, Waikato Times and Christchurch Press book review pages are to be replaced by a single supplement with an”international flavour” edited in Auckland.
What a disaster. What can we do about this to express our anger/disappointment to these three newspapers?


Anonymous said...

A disaster indeed. Hopefully BPANZ and Booksellers NZ can get together and make a forceful complaint and suggestions for the future.

Ann Mallinson
Mallinson Rendel Publishers

Anonymous said...

I believe the new magazine will indeed have book coverage (of what sort is anyone's guess) and the question is then which of the other papers chooses to also do its own - I understand the Press is staunch, the Dominion Post less so. I do not know about the Waikato Times.

Anonymous said...

All those of us who get the DomPost each day should phone or write Sue Green, Features Ed at the DomPost, she should be be able to comment...
How awful, some wiz kid at Fairfax who is into cost cutting and doesn't have a cultural or artistic bone in his body I suspect

Gavin McLean said...

Now we see why Fairfax recently ditched so many sub-editors. As an increasing amount of content is Australian sourced (i.e., free to Fairfax NZ), I suspect good NZ books won't get much coverage.

Anonymous said...

Oooh - this is such a stupid & cynical idea(if it becomes reality.) It would concentrate reviewer-clout
into one area (and a select few reviewers I suspect.) It would deny other regions the opinions of their locally-based reviewers - I am thinking of a large part of the South Island here, and the Christchurch Press. Well, I can always cancel that paper, should the change happen - thank goodness for the ODT!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the same thing is happening all over the US. The San Francisco Chronicle's once mighty Book Review is down to a few pages and shrinking.

jules older

Anonymous said...

I don't know why Fairfax are so hellbent on giving us no possible reason to buy their newspapers any more.

When will they get the point that what readers want are local writers, local news and local opinions and reviews - not out-of-town or off-shore irrelevance.

Anonymous said...

Virtually every newspaper in the land is owned by overseas interests and of course their ONLY interest is the bottom line.
But I reckon if enough of us cancel and let them know why we are doing so they may reconsider this move.
Bloody beancounters!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I would suggest your readers get campaigning like mad - there will be no going back if they drop the pages.

Anonymous said...

I just read your post about the review pages of the Dominion Post and the Christchurch Press. I agree with you -- this is terrible news.

You have asked your readers what we might do about this. Well, I think we need to increase the profile of reviewing and highlight the importance of having several different review forums. I was surprised to see that, when the BPANZ Montana book awards were announced, the award for best review pages was not listed alongside all of the other awards. The BPANZ Montana awards are all about increasing the media profile of books and the publishing industry. You know much more about the publishing industry than I do. Do you know why the review pages award was missed from the lists cited in the media?

I recently did a research assignment on reviewing in NZ (for the Whitiriea Diploma in Publishing) -- over and over, I read in my respondents' answers that they think that having more reviews available on any one title is very important. Of course having lots of book review pages and being able to read lots of different reviews is very important if reviewing is to mean anything to the general reader. This level of variety gives the reading public opportunities to contextualise any one reviewer's comments on a book, to understand that any one review is just a reviewer's opinion, and to note which books create more conversation among reviewers. It also gives reviewers a chance to enter into a conversation about the title under review. We will not get the broad spectrum of opinion or the conversations/debates about new books if all of our country's review pages are duplicates.

I do not own a television, so I don't know what happens on televised news and current events programs. Has anyone spoken to televised media about this yet? Is this something that you might consider doing?

Anonymous said...

These decisions are made to make money. Newspapers are, themselves, under attack from other media. It may be that our best protest is the one we are all making right now - reading Beattie's Book blog. I have read more book reviews here than in all other media combined for some time now.

If Bookman Beattie can supply better reviews, more of them and greater diversity, then newspapers can no longer use them as advertiser bait.

The downside is that, if everyone in the world did it, there would be no originating publications for Beattie Bookman to source!

Anonymous said...

I want to reassure readers that The Dominion Post will continue to offer quality books coverage.

From September The Dominion Post, The Press and The Waikato Times will be offering readers a new weekend colour magazine. This is intended to add to our content - it is not a move to save money. It will be a New Zealand magazine, though there may be the occasional overseas story in it - I'm not sure where the suggestion of "international flavour" came from.

The new magazine will have books pages, which will be edited nationally. It's up to each of the three mastheads to decide what additional books content they'll have.

The Dominion Post's features pages will be recast to complement the new magazine and we are in the process of working out what goes where. But I can assure you we will give attention to Wellington books - in fact, as the magazine will be national we are hoping to give Indulgence a stronger Wellington focus.

Sue Green
Dominion Post Weekend Magazine Editor

Paul Reynolds said...

The comment from Sue Green is welcome.
At the risk of being seen to disagree with everyone prior, I'd also like to add my own contrary comment.

Why is the idea of a national weekend magazine such a bad thing? Why is local reviewing, by definition, such a great thing? And why can't we have both?

In short, if the new venture increases the footprint for good quality coverage of books / reading and writing - then all to the good.

What I'd like to see is the development of a sister/parallel online property which not only gave people the reviews, but also the tools and opportunities to build a rich New Zealand community of readers and writers.

These could link to book clubs, local events - especailly library stuff as a matter of course.

It's not as if there aren't good models for us to bring into the mix. For example, the likes of the UK Guardian - New York Review of Books, et al have been showing us the way around some of these online options for a couple of years.

Moreover, Library Thing [] also gives us a user generated / reader perspective which is worth bringing into the discussion.

In short, I think this is an opportunity knocking!

Okay - bring on tar - break out the feathers.!
paul reynolds

Anonymous said...

It will be a relief if rumours of the 'international flavour', at least, are baseless. As an Aucklander, I get totally fed up with the Herald running overseas book reviews that I have already read - often weeks earlier - on the web, on their original newspapers' websites (the worst instance I noted was actually a film-related interview that the original newspaper had run a year earlier!). I think it is very important to get New Zealand perspectives on international books, as well as plenty of informed coverage of local books. For that reason I have bought the Dom Post's weekend edition regularly for the last couple of years.