Filling a gap
Response to our first issue has crystallised in an appreciative awareness of the gap we are attempting to fill and of the role that lies ahead. Once minor technical faults had been corrected, our format proved the most controversial element in our appearance, a variant of that used by distinguished contemporaries in London and New York. Although we are committed to retaining this for the current year, we are open to suggestions and discussion, bearing in mind that there is always the possibility, if the present flow of valuable publications continues, of our publishing more frequently. Is the informality associated with the page size of a newspaper desirable or do readers prefer a journal that can be conveniently shelved?
The range of topics covered in this issue is as wide as before, with a concentration on important books that have appeared in the fields of literature, music, architecture and religion, to document in most cases, hitherto little-known tracts of our past. Often the proper perception of an artistic genre, a personality or a movement depends upon the existence of a book. Through books large segments of New Zealand experience are now becoming accessible and visible forces in our lives: it is like watching a negative take substance in a darkroom developing tank. Books, whatever the influence of other media, still wield the most durable power.
Letters we have received included one from the Auckland Branch of the New Zealand Book Editors’ Association hoping that we would ‘throw the net wide to look at many diverse facets of the publishing world’ as ‘the average reader is often unaware of the complexity and fascination of the world of books’. The Association suggested a series of profiles and historical features on writers and writing as well as a coverage of significant controversies within the publishing industry. There is certainly substance here for many months to come.
J M Thomson
[John Mansfield Thomson was the founding editor of New Zealand Books.]