So it’s March, and March is apparently NZ book month. NZ Book month is apparently a way of promoting reading to the masses because, you know the masses they don’t do the reading thing so much, the masses are more about the watching of rugby and reality TV.
Now this is a fantastic and lofty goal which I wholeheartedly support, of course more people should be reading! I’m the last person who’ll knock any initiative to get people reading, given that I force books upon people who show the slightest weakness.
The problem I have with it is that rather than just trying to promote reading to people who may or may not be interested, given that it’s NZ Book Month shouldn’t it promote NZ books?
I read quite a lot but I don’t read a lot of New Zealand fiction. This isn’t because I’m biased against it or that I don’t like NZ Fiction, it’s because 1. New Zealand is a small country with a limited market so obviously marketing books that are mainly for a New Zealand market is an expensive exercise. 2. For reasons known only to book shops and publishing companies adult New Zealand Fiction has it’s own section rather than being in with general fiction. Children’s and YA books aren’t separated out like this, all books are mixed in together so Lynley Dodd’s Hairy McLairy books are mixed in with The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Margaret Mahy’s The Changeover is in with Twilight.
Surely NZ Book month could be used like NZ Music month is used – as an opportunity to promote work by New Zealanders. NZ Music month almost doesn’t need to exist anymore because New Zealand music is played on the radio all the time regardless of what time of the year it is. I’m sure New Zealand books are the same – they just need to be in the lime light a bit more.