Letters – Issue 36

Parallel importing

Laura Kroetsch’s lucid round-up on parallel importing in your October issue was very timely. As a regular direct importer, Unity Books is pleased to be decriminalized by the new legislation, and we believe that our kind of parallel importing will not jeopardise local authors or publishers. But there’s the legislative rub. Someone else’s might. Our customers – readers or writers or both – have access to massive international media resources. If we don’t get a book quickly for them, they’ll get it themselves and, let’s face it, the “open market” is never more open than when the shopping bag is on-screen.

Globalisation is a new factor in the lives of our local suppliers, and it has to be addressed carefully by retailers and wholesalers so that both remain viable. Our particular concern is to avoid any prejudice to the work of New Zealand authors. Like Laura, we’re not entirely sure how it’s going to pan out, but one of the many questions in the international debate concerns the future of territorial rights (versus global rights). New Zealand is a very small player in this, and the outcome will depend greatly on what American and British publishers do.

Tilly Lloyd, Alan Preston, Heather McKenzie and Carolyn Alexander
Unity Books, Wellington


Wrong category

I have had drawn to my attention recently a rather curious review of one of my historical novels – The Dancing Man – which appeared in your March 1998 issue. In writing thus I am breaking the professional habit of a lifetime of not replying to critics – either musical or literary – but I do so now because of your reviewer’s basic error in categorising my novel as a murder mystery. The novel is not a murder mystery, was never intended to be, and has not been advertised as one as far as I know. There is not even, strictly speaking, a murder in it! It is a straightforward historical novel which happens to have a police detective as its central character.

If critics feel they must categorize the books they discuss they have an obligation to at least attempt to understand what they read. Bernard Carpinter has managed to both misread and misunderstand not only my book but also Ray Prebble’s Click in order to pursue some fanciful and jejune theory about Christchurch and its writers. Why he should be so anxious to do so is beyond my comprehension. Did he not notice that Ray Prebble is, in fact, a Wellingtonian?

Edmund Bohan


What universities are for

I was pleased to read Professor Peter Munz’s Comment on the intrinsic difference between the kind of education offered at a university and a polytechnic (October issue).

I only hope that the Minister of Education, the Hon Mr Wyatt Creech, has been given an opportunity “to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” Professor Munz’s analysis, and that after due consideration he will embrace the idea that tertiary education consists of more than the acquisition of skills.

R S V Simpson

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