Reading Kiwi books

The SST asks:

MAYBE IT’S because we’re so open-minded and outward-looking. Maybe it’s because our tastes are too lowbrow. Maybe it’s because we’re a small English-speaking country facing the marketing might of the US and UK.

Whatever the possible reasons – and they are countless – there’s no denying the fact that when we’re at the bookstore browsing for a great novel to read, only 5% of the fiction we choose to buy is published in New Zealand.

By comparison, for non-fiction titles, the figure is more like 30%, and for children’s , about 12%, according to Nielsen BookScan.

What does this say about the books our authors are writing? Or is the issue that we’re simply not terribly interested in reading stories about New Zealand?

I don’t think this is a “problem” about Kiwi authors. Let us say Kiwi authors are just as talented as US and UK authors.  Our population is 1% of the US and UK, so you would expect NZ authors to make up 1% of the books we read if all other things are equal.

In fact it is 5% for fiction, 12% for kids and 30% for non fiction. All well above our share of the English writing population. Now non fiction is higher as we are more interested in our home country. But people get fiction to escape reality. Sure it is nice to be able to relate to the setting of a story, but just because it is a Kiwi author doesn’t mean it is set in NZ.

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