Editorial – Issue 77

A modest makeover

With this, its 77th issue, New Zealand Books reverts to a quarterly, and one with a new look: notably, a striking front cover, a fresh typeface and an elegant new page design.

It is, of course, common practice for editors to gush over any revamp of their darling publication as if they expect readers to be equally thrilled. But we won’t do that. Naturally, it’s exciting for us – after looking at the same layout for almost a decade – to be working with something different, something that, we think, makes for a more enticing page. However, we don’t expect you to get worked up about it. Why should you? After all, it’s content that matters, right? Not style.

Well, yes and no. Content is of course any publication’s raison d’être. But some periodicals are so “styley” it’s a battle to locate the text, let alone absorb it. Others, so drear, their pages are an instant visual deterrent. The discouraged reader puts them aside for a future continually deferred because more attractive reading material keeps catching the eye. Whether we like or not, readability is nearly all.

Neither do we expect you, our readers, to jump up and down about New Zealand Books appearing in spring, summer, autumn and winter, rather than five times annually. After all, with each issue expanding from 24 to 28 pages, you’re going to get the same amount of quality reading matter over the course of a year. Our valued advertisers – without whom etc – may be relieved to find our previously Byzantine schedule rather more predictable. But, really, what difference will this make to you?

We’ll still be the only New Zealand journal devoted entirely to reviewing home-grown books, which are rarely reviewed outside this country. Still the only publication running reviews extensive enough to be satisfying essays in their own right. Still the journal of record for this country’s unique literature and culture.

And that’s something, we’re very glad to say, that Creative New Zealand – another without-whom – appreciates. It was with some trepidation that the journal’s publisher, Peppercorn Press, applied to CNZ for the same funding to be spread over four rather than five issues. Would our track record persuade those holding the purse-strings that we could bring off this significant change and still provide value for public money?

It did, and we’re delighted to thank CNZ for its continuing support. Also a big thank you to our reviewers, who work so diligently and are brave enough to say what they think. To our loyal advertisers, whose fees not only help to keep us going but whose ads enliven our pages and inform our readers. And finally, thank you to you, constant readers of this journal, now in its 18th year and all grown up.


Harry Ricketts and Jane Westaway



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