Yes, in spite of certain doomsayers, we are still here. There is a national need for a journal of this kind, and that has been perceived by some generous supporters. In this issue we are publishing the names of the ‘Founders’ and the ‘Friends’ of the Peppercorn Press: individuals who have shown their commitment to the ideals pursued by New Zealand Books in a practical way. The list is growing and will already be out of date when this issue appears. Without their support we would have gone under; with it we can continue to pursue those ideals. We thank them not only on our own behalf, but on behalf of the true beneficiaries – the readers who hope to be enriched by what those idealists have made possible. We are also encouraged by the solid support of certain institutions. The Children’s Book Foundation, with its head office in Auckland, has offered us the expertise of its members by organising regular contributions on children’s books. The first of these can be found on page 6 below. The Book Council, too, has demonstrated its friendship and its willingness to enter into a close association with us, and, again, help us in very practical ways. We are, of course, delighted at these signs of warm support.
They are to be seen as a recognition of the fact that the lively New Zealand book industry, which has gone from strength to strength despite the recession and can now be said to be flourishing in a way few industries can equal, cannot continue to do so in a vacuum. One of the things most urgently called for is a forum for the serious discussion of the books produced. Not a discussion of their commercial viability – the publishers have already shown that they can cope with that side of things – but a discussion of readers’ reactions and potential reactions to the New Zealand books they encounter and an encouragement for such readers to engage in active thought and debate on the wide range of issues covered. Other media, in particular radio, offer some help towards this, but New Zealand Books is surely unique in providing long and thoughtful comments on the books as they appear. They and their readers deserve no less.
It has been a privilege to edit this issue. The next will be edited by Jane Stafford and will include a major section on poetry.
A Note from Peppercorn Press
Discussion has been going on recently on forming a closer link between New Zealand Books and the New Zealand Book Council. Details of the arrangement are still being worked out, but two things are emerging.
The link with the Book Council will give New Zealand Books the support and stability which derives from the Council’s 21 years of successful activities. Arrangements are being put in place for the Council to supply centralised administrative support which will enable New Zealand Books to overcome some of the difficulties which are inherent in a co‑operative organisation. Members of the Peppercorn Press, of the Editorial Board and the Friends organisation will continue to have particular responsibilities. But the Council will provide a paid part‑time executive, working under the general direction of its Administrator, who will ensure the various activities fit together, and nothing falls in the cracks. This should make the job of editor vastly easier. We are fortunate that Rachel Lawson, a member of the Press, has agreed to take this position.
The full implementation of the new arrangements will take a little time. As a first step we are centralising our mail at New Zealand Books, PO Box 6341, Wellington – including the receipt of books for review and all correspondence about subscriptions.
In her editorial in the September 1992 issue, Lauris Edmond mentioned that John Mansfield Thomson had been involved with both Hilltop and Arena. He founded Hilltop in 1949, with the Literary Society of Victoria University College, and edited the first two numbers but had no association with Arena, which was edited and produced by Noel Hoggard.