Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Staying afloat during the COVID-19 lockdown

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our accustomed way of living and working, and caused death and suffering in many countries. 

In February we were in close contact with our agent, printers and colleagues in China as the first wave of the coronavirus spread there. Happily everyone has made it through well and normal life is resuming.
Flying the Italian Tricolore in Oratia
Now we are feeling saddened and worried for our family and friends in Italy, and extend our amore and solidarietà to all, especially in Alessandra’s home areas of Emilia-Romagna, Lombardia and Veneto, who have been hit so hard by the virus. Il nostro cuore è con voi!

Our most sincere condolences to Paola della Valle, author of the Oratia book From Silence to Voice, who has lost of her mother to the epidemic in Turin. Our heart goes out to you, Paola. 

The spread of the disease to other parts of Europe and North America is gravely concerning, and we wish our family, friends and business partners there all the best for this challenging period. 

We applaud the New Zealand government’s move to a Level 4 alert here, which is confining New Zealanders to their homes for four weeks minimum and closing all but essential work and services. 
The latest title in The NZ Series will now publish on 8 May
Oratia is lucky to be a home-based business so there was no need for a transition to remote work. We feel for our publishing colleagues and bookstores who had to reconfigure rapidly as the lockdown closed in on us. 

We are all having to adapt to not being able to sell or ship physical books while these are considered non-essential services.

The first consequence is rescheduling our next two books. Rush to Riches: Kauri and Gold moves from April to an 8 May publication date — the books are printed and ready now, but we have no way to distribute them.

Harry Sangl’s beautiful painting collection Te Kuia Moko: The Last Tattooed Maori Women, which is printing in New Zealand, will now publish on 9 June. 
Te Kuia Moko will now be available in June
The Oratia Books 2020 Catalogue will be out later this week, as planned. All the books are on schedule for completion this year, and we’ll just have to adapt timing and print options depending on how the fight against COVID-19 proceeds. 

Our New Zealand booksellers are the key to keeping New Zealand authors are print, so while shops are closed we recommend readers to bide their time and then get back to their local bookseller (be it bricks-and-mortar or online) once it's safe to do so.
The 2020 catalogue is ready
In the interim now we’re looking into expanding our Ebook range, to ensure more of our books continue to be available to readers. 

Among the industry initiatives underway — virtual launches, online reading and sharing of favourite reads – some of our authors are taking the lead also. Click here for Tim Tipene’s reading oMāui – Sun Catcher

Meanwhile useful advice from the Publishers Association of New Zealand, some of which is of general interest, is available here.

We wish everyone a safe and healthy period at home, and we’ll keep in contact. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Stay Home New Zealand, and read books :-)

As we move into lockdown in Aotearoa to combat the COVID-19 epidemic, our thoughts are with our many friends and colleagues in Italy who have endured weeks of terrible news during their time at home. The Italian campaign Io Resto a Casa (which has its equivalent in #StayHomeNZ) recommended reading as an essential activity while staying at home, and we agree. Oratia will remain open from our home offices during the Level 4 lockdown, and will do whatever we can to help Kiwis have books to read, whether in print or electronic form.

Image credit <a href="https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/home">Home vector created by freepik - www.freepik.com</a>

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Keeping the history of Le Quesnoy up to date

Since its publication in October 2018, Christopher Pugsley's Le Quesnoy 1918 has shared with thousands of readers the gripping story of how The New Zealand Division broke through German defensive lines to capture the French town of Le Quesnoy in its last and most successful action in the First World War. 

Among those readers have been many descendants of soldiers involved in the action, some of whom contacted the author to provide further commentary about their family members. 

With the information that has come to light, Christopher has been able to update a number of details — notably   the addition of two names to the list of casualties in the period 1–7 November 1918 or who died after from wounds sustained. 

They were Lance-Corporate David MacKay of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade and Private Roy Walker of the New Zealand Cyclist Battalion, both young men in their twenties who were killed on 1 November 1918.

The new entries for those who lost their lives during the Le Quesnoy ation
That takes the total of the New Zealanders who died liberating Le Quesnoy to 191, and the book is dedicated to ensuring they are not forgotten.

Le Quesnoy 1918 now has a new red colour to its cover, marking this updated edition that is out today, just over a month ahead of Anzac Day commemorations.

Dr Christopher Pugsley is one of New Zealand’s leading historians. A retired Lieutenant-Colonel in the New Zealand Army, he was a lecturer in military studies in New Zealand, Australia and UK until his retirement in 2012. His other books with Oratia include The Camera in the Crowd and Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story

Updated edition publishing today, 18 March 2020  |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-49-0  |  RRP $39.99
Paperback, 297 x 210 mm portrait, 168 pages (8 pages colour)

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Bum team does lunch

Author Dawn McMillan and illustrator Ross Kinnaird got together with the Oratia team behind their books for a celebratory lunch this past Thursday. 

Lunch at White + Wong's in Auckland's Viaduct offered the chance to toast last October's publication I've Broken My Bum!
The 'Bum' team, from left: designer Cheryl Smith, publisher Peter Dowling, marketing guru Belinda Cooke, illustrator Ross Kinnaird, author Dawn McMillan and editor Carolyn Lagahetau
This sequel to the international bestseller I Need a New Bum! is already in US and UK editions, with rights sold to Brazil and China. 
Dawn's tasty Broken Bum Glue
Dawn prepared jars of Broken Bum Glue to distribute for the occasion (actually a very tasty fruit jelly!).

We were also able to toast the recent publication of the Italian edition of New Bum! Milanese publisher Adriano Salani Editore issued Voglio un nuovo sederino under its Nord-Sud Edizioni imprint (see more at this website).
Ross and Dawn with their favourite new Italian book
Cheers to Dawn, Ross and our talented team who make working together such a load of fun. 

Dawn and Carolyn, exemplifying the author-editor relationship

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Starting the year off in te reo — a new guide to the basics of the language

The welcome upsurge in learning and speaking of the Māori language continues to gather pace across Aotearoa New Zealand.
Along with the growing use of te reo in daily life, demand is such that places in night classes are hard to secure and there’s a shortfall in resources to make learning the language efficient and enjoyable. 

In Te Reo Māori: The Basics Explained, seasoned author and language teacher David Kārena-Holmes helps answer that demand.

With his simple and methodical approach, David explains in simple terms the building blocks of grammar in te reo, showing how to create phrases, sentences and paragraphs. 

After an introductory chapter on pronunciation and written forms of the language, 17 chapters introduce the main base words, particles and determiners that guide their use. 

The book employs real-life examples to illustrate how Māori grammar works day to day.

Te Reo Māori: The Basics Explained draws on David’s previous books and decades of experience teaching and writing about Māori language to provide an essential companion for speakers at any level.

Nelson Public Libraries will be hosting a presentation by David about the book this Saturday 8 February; click here to find out more.

The author
David Karena-Holmes has been a tutor of Māori grammar at schools and institutions in New Zealand since the 1980s. This is his third book on the subject. He contributes a fortnightly newspaper column on te reo, and his poetry and other writings have been widely published. David lives in Whakatū/Nelson.
Publication: 5 February 2020 |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-69-8 |  RRP $34.99
Paperback, 210 x 148 mm portrait, 168 pages b&w

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Taking pride in our publishing services

While it is Oratia's successful trade publishing programme that has built the company's profile and reputation in recent years, custom publishing and communications services have always been at the core of its business. 

Peter Dowling and Alessandra Zecchini founded Oratia Media in August 2000 to help organisations and individuals create the best possible books and communications. 

From a small base of clients in Japan, Europe and New Zealand, the company has expanded over almost 20 years to provide companies and authors around the world with a wide range of services. 

Recent book projects undertaken for public policy advocate Owen Gill and Archetype Book Agents 

Book projects have spanned full-colour, hardback company histories to short-run, black & white paperbacks for self-publishing authors.

Books for individuals, charitable societies, clubs and companies

We now advise widely on best options for production and marketing domestically and internationally, drawing on our decades of collective experience in the book business. 

That includes representing books from other publishers and authors at international book fairs, brokering the best print or digital options, and advising on rights and distribution. 
Our own and clients' books at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2019

Annual reports, magazine supplements and articles, special editions and media planning form a further arm of the Oratia Media portfolio.

Having a multicultural staff and network of contributors enables work across cultures in a range of languages, with particular demand for Māori, Italian and Spanish work.

An English-Spanish supplement produced by Oratia in 2016
As a small team we work closely and collaboratively to create the optimal outcome for our partners, making the often complex business of publishing easy to manage. 

So while it is the Oratia Books list that is more visible these days, it is services work that underpins our business. 

Oratia provided all editorial services for The Tindall Foundation's Annual Report in recent year, including 2018/19 (pictured above)
Indeed, we are just as proud of products finished to the requirements of clients as we are of our own books. 

Please get in touch with Peter (peter@oratia.co.nz, 027 614 8993) to find out how we can help you achieve your publishing and communication goals.

Here's what Owen Gill, author of Turning Point Auckland (published February 2019) had to say about working with us:

"Peter Dowling and the team at Oratia made what could have been a dry policy book into a creative tour de force, mostly by bringing outstanding design and editing to the book. The book was published on-budget and on-time, and to a good reception in the media, which was also arranged by Oratia. I strongly recommend Peter and Oratia for private publishing projects like mine."

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Remembering the irrepressible Dick Scott

Dick Scott, who passed away on 1 January, was a courageous voice for justice and righting historical wrongs throughout a long and original writing career. 

It was Dick who first brought to light the appalling treatment of the Parihaka community led by Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi, in The Parihaka Story in 1954. 

That book was later published as Ask That Mountain, widely regarded as among the most important New Zealand books of the twentieth century. 

Dick on the Kaipara Harbour during the Seven Lives on Salt River project
It was in working on a revision of that book in 1998 for Reed Publishing that I came to meet Dick, and we formed a strong friendship through two other new editions (his seminal works 151 Days and Seven Lives on Salt River) and his autobiography Dick Scott: A Radical Writer's Life

The latter was his last book, and Dick happily retired in this eighties to pursue his varied interests and spend time with his wife Sue. 

Not only an historian, Dick was also a publisher of note, having a hand in his own books through his Southern Cross Books and founding the country's first wine journal, Wine Review. 

A collection of his writings with photography by Marti Friedlander, whom Dick had employed early in her career, made up another Reed book, Pioneers of New Zealand Wine.

Dick recalled that winemakers on occasion paid for ads in early editions of the Review in kind, with crates of wine delivered to his home office. 

Consuming what was often not the highest-quality vintage had its hazards, but Dick survived and thrived. 

He lived to be 96 and received honours including the Prime Ministers Award for Literary Achievement and an honorary doctorate from Massey University. 

- Peter Dowling

Click here for the New Zealand Herald's item about Dick.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Publishing Perspectives reports on New Zealand's presence at the Guadalajara Book Fair

 Publishing Perspectives

Publishing Perspectives, one of the major news sources for the international publishing industry, has featured New Zealand strongly in its coverage of the recently concluded Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL). 

Journalist Adam Critchley interviewed Peter Dowling at the fair in his role as Publishers Association of New Zealand international councillor, and as publisher at Oratia Books. 
Peter pictured on the PANZ stand in Guadalajara
Click here for the full article, which also features publishers and agents from Egypt, France and the UK. 

Publishing Perspectives shared a photo of this yoga session conducted as part of India's guest of honour programme at the Guadalajara International Book Fair in early December
Toitoi Media publisher Charlotte Gibbs and Huia Publishers executive director Brian Morris also attended the FIL, both for the first time. 

You can read Charlotte's account of the experience here

Monday, November 11, 2019

Gavin McLean's final word on New Zealand's heavy toll of shipwrecks

New Zealand maritime disasters
Gavin McLean, edited by Kynan Gentry

Gripping stories of New Zealand’s major shipwrecks with extensive illustrations and colour paintings 
Before his untimely death in April, maritime history expert Gavin McLean was creating this definitive edition of his works on the tragedies that have plagued New Zealand shipping since the first waka reached our shores from Polynesia. 

Brought to completion by his colleague and friend Kynan Gentry, Shipwrecked is a gripping, richly illustrated account of the hazards and heroism that distinguish our maritime history.  

In the last 200 years, in fact over 2500 ships have been fatally wrecked on our shores, sometimes with horrific loss of life. Many more have been salvaged only after epic struggle.

Disasters at sea are no longer the regular occurrence that led to drowning being known as ‘the New Zealand death’, yet recent wrecks like the Rena show that perils persist in the age of GPS and satellites.

Shipwrecked  is a story of terrifying storms, inhospitable coastlines, human error, the malicious hand of fate, and courtroom dramas. It is also testimony to courage, endurance and self-sacrifice. 

In addition to more than 150 photos and ephemera, Shipwrecked reproduces 16 superb colour paintings of notable ships lost to the sea, by renowned artist Eric Heath. 

The author
Gavin McLean wrote or contributed to over 50 books in a distinguished career as an historian. He was an authority on New Zealand shipping, and published widely on the topic while working as a senior historian at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Gavin passed away in April 2019; this work has been prepared for publication by his colleague Kynan Gentry, research fellow in history at the University of Western Australia.

Gavin McLean (1957–2019)
Publication: 11 November 2019  |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-66-7 |  RRP $59.99
Jacketed hardback, 280 x 215 mm portrait, 264 pages (16 pages colour)

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Māori business: community origins explored in new book

The growth of Māori community entrepreneurship
Merata Kawharu and Paul Tapsell
What do a mānuka-honey cooperative in Northland, a ginseng exporter in the King Country and a prison services provider in Dunedin have in common? All are examples of Māori-owned business forging a distinctive identity in New Zealand’s economic and social future.

Based on a five-year research project that blended on-the-ground interviews with scholarly analysis, Whāriki reveals how kin-based business ventures created by Māori are driving social, economic and environmental wellbeing from the whenua (land) up.

The core of the book is eight case studies of Māori businesses. From iwi-driven ideas to whānau enterprises, from Te Hiku o Te Ika in the Far North to Otākou in the Far South, these chapters unpick the business models of primary producers, service providers and social enterprises as they seek to grow their own solutions to economic opportunities and threats.

As Merata and Paul write in the introduction:“Whatever the particular trajectories of each, Whāriki is a binding of threads, revealing the entrepreneurial spirit that still burns despite the ongoing impacts of colonisation; a spirit persistently emerging time and again from within the Māori kin community world.”

The book is available from all good booksellers and there's more on our website by following this link.

The authors
Merata Kawharu (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi) is Research Professor at the Centre of Sustainability, University of Otago. Her most recent book was Maranga Mai! Te Reo and Marae in Crisis? In 2012 she was made MNZM for services to Māori education. 
Paul Tapsell (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Raukawa) is Professor of Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne. His other books with Oratia are Te Ara, with Krzysztof Pfeiffer and Pūkaki, translated by Scotty Morrison.

Publication: 5 November 2019  |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-63-6 |  RRP $39.99
Paperback with flaps, 234 x 153 mm portrait, 200 pages

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

New colours for Nanny Mihi and the Rainbow

Of the five picture books in the original Nanny Mihi series, the story about Nanny and her grandchildren making a rainbow on the beach during the school holidays was the most popular among children and adults alike.

Now, in time for the summer break and after more than ten years of being out of print, Nanny Mihi and the Rainbow returns in this new edition. 

Oratia Books relaunched the series last with a new story from Melanie Drewery, Nanny Mihi and the Bellbird, featuring a fresh illustration style from Tracy Duncan. 

That book has already reprinted twice, proving Nanny still has a place in readers’ hearts. 

Nanny Mihi and the Rainbow marks the next in the refreshed series, and integrates te Reo Māori into the text with translations provided. 

Nanny Mihi teaches her grandchildren and the many kids who will read the book patience, creativity and connection to nature — and that sometimes the best things are not those we keep but those we give away. 

The book is available from all good booksellers and there's more on our website by following this link.

The authors
Melanie Drewery works as a potter and writer from her rural home in Marahau,  Nelson, where the beach is close by. She is an established children’s writer with more than 20 titles to her name, including 2018’s Nanny Mihi and the BellbirdTracy Duncan is an author, illustrator and teacher who lives in Upper Moutere, Nelson. She has illustrated all of the Nanny Mihi stories.

Publication: 5 November 2019  |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-65-0 |  RRP $19.99
Paperback, 230 x 215 mm, 32 pages colour

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Sharjah International Book Fair: a meeting ground for world books

There's no doubting the rise of the United Arab Emirates as a crossroads for books, ideas and writing. 

Looking to and from the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce, site of the Publishers Conference
And the emirate of Sharjah is at the forefront of efforts to encourage more reading, translation and cultural exchange with the Arab-speaking world.

The emirate has devoted significant resources to its annual Sharjah International Book Fair, and invited over 400 publishers to a three-day conference ahead of the fair's opening last Wednesday 30 October. 

Faisal Al Nabouda of the Sharjah Book Authority opens the conference

The Sharjah Book Authority put together a fascinating few days for this first-timer to the Middle East. The first day had a global focus, and I was pleased to be part of the opening seminar looking at trends in the world publishing scene. 

The session, moderated by IBIIDI Books managing director and Book Depository co-founder Emad Eldeen Elakehal, brought in esteemed Sourcebooks founder Dominique Raccah, Ghana Publishers Association president Elliot Agyare and Austin Macauley international publishing director Jade Robertson for a lively discussion of key influences including digital, audio, indigenous languages and globalisation.

Mahmoud Lutfi, brother of IPA 2019 Prix Voltaire recipient Khaled Lutfi, imprisoned in Egypt for his publishing work 

Day two provided insights into the Arabic markets for books and freedom to publish issues globally, with day three shedding light on the challenges and opportunities of book publishing and libraries across Africa.

Bodour Al Qasimi, International Publishers Association vice president and founder of UAE publishing house Kalimat, closing the Publishers Conference
Business meetings and networking events throughout the conference enabled exchanges with publishers from the Middle East, Africa and around the world. 

Signing rights contracts for some of Oratia's children's books with Nancy Liu, director of overseas marketing, People & Tangel Publishing, Beijing
I was able to explore rights and distribution openings in meetings with colleagues from a couple of dozen countries — representing Oratia, Massey University Press and Te Papa Press lists, as well as investigating for the Kiwi book industry on behalf of the Publishers Association of NZ. 

Business meetings with publishers from the region (clockwise from top left): from Mozambique, Sandra Tamele (Editora Trinta Zero Nove); from Jordan, Rami Abu Slayyeh (Jabal Amman); from Bangladesh, Lutfur Rahman Chowdhury (Sandesh)

Invited publishers were also treated to a dinner at Sharjah Book City, an ambitious complex that houses the regional hubs of international book companies. 

Salim Omar Salim of the Sharjah Book Authority with Tony Mulliken of Midas PR, welcoming guests to Sharjah Book City
Sheik Sultan III bin Muhammad, the ruler of Sharjah, opened the fair proper in a lavish ceremony on the Wednesday morning, speaking of the cultural advances that Emirati society has made over the past 40 years. 

"The book is now installed in the culture of every family and home," the Sheikh said, expressing his desire to restore the nation to its traditional role as a source of culture and humanitarianism.

Coverage of the fair and conference from local newspapers the Khaleej Times and Gulf Today

The fair was a buzz of activity, prefacing a busy nine days that will draw some 1 million visitors to browse and buy books. 

Wonderful hospitality at the busy fair opening from the Sharjah Ministry of Culture

There's also a full schedule of author and illustrator appearances, and it was fantastic to attend the opening address to the fair by Turkish author and Nobel Literature Prize laureate Orhan Pamuk. 

I left Sharjah with a much clearer idea of how books fit in to the Arab world, and fresh confidence that New Zealand publishing can become a part of that world.

My sincere thanks to the Sharjah Book Authority and the hard-working team at Midas PR, who made this memorable exchange possible for international publishers.

Below: around the aisles on day one of the Sharjah International Book Fair

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