ANNUAL REPORT TO MEMBERS OF BOOKSELLERS NZ FOR THE FINANCIAL YEAR TO 31 MARCH 2016
FROM THE CHAIR The bookselling climate has been far more settled this year. Whilst we have lost some shops, it has been predominately due to retirement and it has been pleasing to hear of new shops opening and existing businesses expanding.
Educating the public to realise that online purchases can be made from kiwi booksellers is a continuing process and still producing results for those shops engaged in e-commerce. The value of social media as a marketing tool continues to increase as customers turn more to their devices for information traditionally sought in print media, be it advertising or book reviews. Social media gives customers another means of communicating with their favourite bookseller and it has put a new spin on “word-of-mouth” advertising. The Association remains highly involved in this area disseminating book news to the public as well as members.
The publishing scene has settled in the last year with no more loses of publishers or distributors offshore. The independent publishers still resident are strengthening, with their lists reflecting quality rather than quantity. Self-publishing is growing, but in this area too, the quality is getting better as is the understanding of the role of bookshops in getting a book into the hands of the reading public.
The #eFairnessNZ campaign of last year has resulted in GST being applied to non-physical sales from offshore suppliers, i.e. music downloads, e-books. There is still work to be done on low value products of which books form a part. Your Association will be submitting to the discussion paper when it is released by the Government imminently.
Sales of Booksellers NZ gift cards have been steady, but they have not been keeping pace with other gift cards on offer. The revenue to the Association from unredeemed cards is still higher than anticipated. The flip side of this is that the redemption rate is disappointing. A marketing plan is being developed to promote the cards to the public and increase their worth as a desirable gift.
The first New Zealand Bookshop Day in October last year was an outstanding success. This will be an ongoing promotion with plans for 29 October 2016 currently being developed. The Summer Reading catalogue is also going from strength to strength with more shops participating each year.
As in previous years, this year’s Kobo Booksellers NZ Scholars to the American Booksellers Association Winter Institute found the experience rewarding and the feedback received from their US ‘employer’ was fantastic. The 2017 Kobo Scholarship recipients will be announced at NZ Book Industry Awards and Conference. This is proving to be a worthwhile professional development scheme and all members are encouraged to promote it to their staff.
The Association has not been actively involved in the management of the book awards this year, but it has supported and assisted the Book Awards Trust financially and through the efforts of The Association’s appointed Trustee, Stella Chrysostomou. 2016 has seen the Acorn and Ockham Foundations secured as sponsors and the merger of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults with the LIANZA Awards with Hell Pizza staying on board as a sponsor. We congratulate the Book Awards Trust on its efforts and know that awards will remain an important part of our bookselling landscape.
Financially, the Group has made a surplus of $258,241 before tax for the year, which represents a reduction of $215,433 relative to last year’s surplus before tax of $473,674. The reduction in the Group’s surplus is mainly attributable to the reduction in the market returns of the investment portfolio relative to last year. This has been offset by an increase in the release of token trading income based on revised estimates of breakage. Reduction in operating costs has reduced in line with the reduced activities the organisation is now undertaking.
The Board and management team are continually looking to improve communication and services to members to assist you in the running of your shops. We must remember though that Booksellers NZ is a membership organisation and in order for us to maintain our relevancy, you, the members, need to provide the Board with feedback regarding issues that you want us to tackle, or, more broadly, what you expect of the Association.
Relevancy has been a huge issue for the Board this year, hand-in-hand with financial resources. The management team is currently looking at all aspects of its workload with a view to presenting the Board with a proposal to ensure the Association’s financial security into the future. Coincidentally we have lost some members of the team to greener pastures, but every effort is being made to ensure that it is business as usual. I would like to take this opportunity to thank management, both immediate past and present, for the vast amount of terrific work they have done during the year.
I have asked a lot of my fellow directors this year. I appreciate the commitment that they have shown and the support that they have given me. It is with mixed feelings that I now step aside having served four years as Chair, but I’m grateful to the combined team that has made my term as Chair such a rewarding experience.
Chair of Booksellers New Zealand & Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd