By Bronwyn Sell - New Zealand Herald - 20 March 2012
When you're giving something away it's not usually a hard sell. Even if the recipient is half-hearted they'll usually feign enthusiasm (and then probably toss the thing into the re-gifting pile).
But time and time again I've found that if I mention the book is by a New Zealand author, a cloud of doubt will pass over the friend's face. "No, no, it's really GOOD!" I say. I suspect there's a misconception that if a book is good enough to be published overseas, it must be brilliant; if it's good enough to be published in little old New Zealand, it's probably just okay. A few friends have said they've found New Zealand novels too gloomy, and/or too highbrow.
On the other hand, New Zealanders love local non-fiction. Just look at the all-time New Zealand Booksellers bestseller lists.
To qualify as a platinum bestseller - the highest of the four tiers on the charts - a non-fiction book needs to sell 100,000 copies within New Zealand in its lifetime, while an adult fiction book must sell 50,000.
Even with the 50 per cent discount, only four local adult fiction books have made the cut: Once Were Warriors and What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? by Alan Duff; and Pounamu Pounamu and The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera. Three of those books were presumably propelled onto the list by the popularity of movies based on them. The non-fiction list, meanwhile, has 12 books.
I remember reading somewhere that a famous New Zealand author once toiled for two years writing a novel and made $10,000 from it.
That ain't going to pay the mortgage, but it's actually a pretty good result for local fiction. Only 43 New Zealand adult fiction titles have sold more than 5000 copies in their entire shelf time, going by the bestseller lists.
Full story at NZ Herald.