Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bookstore Review: NewsTravels, Auckland Domestic Airport

In the ninth of an irregular series on this blog, I take a look at how well (or not) NewsTravels store in the Auckland Airport domestic terminal displays, publicises and otherwise supports New Zealand crime and thriller writing.

I was flying to and from Nelson for a short visit earlier this week (hence the gap in blog posts), so I thought I'd pop into the NewsTravels store in the domestic terminal, to see how it fared with promoting and supporting local crime fiction - especially in comparison to the Whitcoulls store down the other end of the domestic terminal.

Despite being around half the size (or less) of the Whitcoulls, the NewsTravels store seems to have much, much more than half the number of fiction books (ie a bigger proportion of its store is novels- it concentrates less on magazines and non-fiction). It is also very good at supporting crime fiction in general - there are 8 wall 'bays' of shelves; two are crime fiction, two fiction, and the other four recommended/new releases/bestsellers/what's hot. Although 25% of its wall space is dedicated to crime fiction, crime fiction actually still dominates the other 6 bays as well. James Patterson's I, ALEX CROSS was the #1 book on their instore charts. There were also a couple of 'promo' tables highlighting various books (a large chunk of them being crime/thriller novels too) near the entry of the small store.

Conservatively I'd estimate the crime fiction content of the shelves and tables being in the 60-65% range, if not much higher. So that's a big positive for crime fiction fans. NesTravels seemed to have most of the big-name latest titles, as well as plenty of others.

But how did NewsTravels fare when it came to Kiwi crime fiction? Here are my findings:
  • There were multiple copies of Maurice Gee's latest novel ACCESS ROAD in the crime section, as well as several copies on a display table at the front of the store (GOOD/GREAT);
  • There were a couple of copies of Michael Green's latest, BLOOD BOND, in the fiction section (GOOD/GREAT);
  • Surprisingly there didn't seem to be any copies of Dorothy Fowler's WHAT REMAINS BEHIND - the only store I haven't found that book in lately (the Random House team seem to be doing really well overall getting it well-stocked in a variety of stores overall) (POOR);
  • There weren't any copies of any other recent titles, such as Liam McIlvanney's ALL THE COLOURS OF THE TOWN, Alix Bosco's CUT & RUN, Lindy Kelly's BOLD BLOOD, or Neil Cross' BURIAL. There also weren't any copies of Vanda Symon's CONTAINMENT (although that was only officially launched a couple of days beforehand) (POOR);
So overall, it wasn't a great result for NewsTravels in terms of Kiwi crime and thriller writing, especially given how well they promote, stock and support crime writing in general. Again, I would have thought an airport would have been a perfect place to promote and sell NZ crime/thriller fiction (after all, many such books are referred to as 'airport thrillers' - enjoyable and great reads for people who are travelling places - and the store clearly backs this up when it comes to non-New Zealand crime and thrillers).

So, overall, I give NewsTravels Auckland Airport (Domestic Terminal) 2 out of 5. Slightly better than the nearby Whitcoulls, as it had more copies of the two local books it had in stock even though it was much smaller in size, but could still do a lot better. Given its size I wouldn't expect lots of Kiwi back catalogue, but it would have been nice to see some of the other recent Kiwi crime and thriller titles also instore. At least you could get 4 different recent Kiwi crime titles at the domestic airport I guess (since the two stores stocked different titles).

Thoughts? Comments? Am I being fair? Or am I expecting too much from NZ bookstores?


  1. I think it's interesting that a smaller bookstore would have a larger selection of Kiwi authors.. I'm glad that you were able to find at least some at News Travels.

  2. Do you say anything to the stores when you do your reconnaissance Craig or is it all incognito? I'm just curious if store managers are interested in feedback of this kind.

  3. At the moment its all incognito, though as I build up information etc, I might look to share this more with bookstores. There are a few bookstore owners and managers(some independent, some chainstore)who are acquaintances of mine too (some who read this blog), so I intend to use this info-gathering at some point to prod some to stock or display Kiwi crime and thriller writing better.