Modern Trends in Retailing
Most New Zealand booksellers are members of the Associated Booksellers of New Zealand, founded in 1921 with a membership now of over 300. This organisation represents booksellers in approaches to Government over such matters as censorship and import licensing, and is also concerned with price fixing. Its actions in this regard were in 1961 challenged successfully by the Trade Practices Commission which heard a great deal of evidence and recorded the surprising opinion that it did “not believe for one moment that booksellers have any decisive or particular influence on the book buying propensities and the reading habits of New Zealanders”. This decision was revised on appeal in 1962.
The position of the bookseller (who caters for a minority, provides a complex service, and carries a very wide variety of stock) has been threatened everywhere by the competition of other forms of entertainment, by the wide dispersion of the sale of paperback books; and (especially in New Zealand) by a vast increase in the sale of magazines. Large shops both in England and in New Zealand are tending to mix their stock with other, and presumably more profitable, forms of merchandise. But there is no reason to expect any dramatic change in the position of bookselling and publishing in New Zealand, apart from the possible repercussions of the decision of the Trade Practices Tribunal. Nevertheless, there are indications that the retail book trade, as in England and the United States, may well have difficulty in maintaining its present position in the modern commercial world.
by David Blackwood Paul, M.A., LL.B. (1908–65), Bookseller and Publisher, Hamilton.