Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Innovative bookshop concept blends indy publishing with bricks and mortar
Earlier this year, Upper Hutt crime writer Cat Connor was longlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award. So Connor and I were corresponding a fair bit, as we looked to schedule a Murder in the Library event to be held in the Wellington region, along with all the logistics of having the longlist (including her book DATABYTE) judged by an international panel spread over several countries and three continents.
It was interesting for me to note that just at the time I was having trouble with some bookstores sourcing stock of a couple of the longlisted books (published by smaller, overseas-based publishers), Connor was working on an innovative idea for a brand new type of bookstore. A bookshop that celebrated, highlighted, and focused on indy-published authors.
That concept has now come to fruition, with the opening this Friday of Writer's Plot Readers Read on Ferguson Drive in Upper Hutt.
We're going through some rapidly changing times in the books world, as the way writers connect with their potential audience continually seems to shift. But telling good stories and getting them into the hands of those who might want to read them remains at the heart of everything - despite the technological bells and dog whistles - and Connor's concept is an interesting step in the (r)evolution.
Back in September, Connor emailed me to say that the new shop, which will also haven an online presence for those not in Wellington, aimed bookshop based in Upper Hutt, aimed "to provide an outlet for NZ authors writing fiction (not necessarily NZ fiction). We’re looking for excellent stories and poetry but not children’s books or non-fiction works".
"There is a wealth of talented story tellers in our country that rarely come to the attention of the general population because they’re published by small to mid-sized presses," said Connor at the time. "We are here to help bring about change and to expose the stories tucked away in remote places to readers."
In today's Upper Hutt Leader, Connor and her fellow local author and business partner Caro Lankow expanded on the idea behind Writer's Plot, Readers Read, noting how tough it's been for New Zealand writers to break through with the big publishers, with so few literary agents in the country, and how talented local authors could clock up hundreds of rejections.
"It's always been hard here and for a lot of years people were under the impression that New Zealand writers couldn't write," said Connor to the Upper Hutt Leader. "We were forced to read those awful journals at school with dreary covers and nothing inside that excited people."
She told the Leader she hoped the new bookshop would help dispel some of those myths about New Zealand fiction."New Zealand authors are actually really really good. We want to help share their stories."
It sounds like a great concept with plenty of potential. I'm completely behind anything that helps writers connect with readers, and as Cat's a crime writer herself, I'm hoping that this new bookshop will allow the ever-increasing amount of contemporary New Zealand crime and mystery writers to gain more of a foothold in their home country, finding an audience for their thrilling tales.
You can read the full article in the Upper Hutt Leader online here.