Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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NZ booksellers to begin trading again as restrictions eased, but supply ‘tricky’

New Zealand’s booksellers are preparing to recommence trade from early next week, with the country’s Covid-19 restrictions due to be eased from late Monday, 27 April.

New Zealand has been in level 4 lockdown since Wednesday, 25 March. In this time bookstores have been closed and unable to offer online sales.

Jude Potts from The Children’s Bookshop in Christchurch told Books+Publishing that when the restrictions are eased the shop will be offering click and collect, delivery within Christchurch, and courier and post options.

Potts said the shutdown had been difficult for customers: ‘I think the last few weeks for parents and caregivers has been at times frustrating not being able to access new reading material for their kids.’

She said the response from customers this week had been positive, with online orders coming in that will be fulfilled from Tuesday. However, Potts said the store’s stock levels were ‘slightly down as we didn’t get a chance to reorder more before lockdown’.

She added that supply chains from ‘some of the bigger publishers and distributors’ were proving to be a bit ‘tricky’. ‘Most of their stock is in Australia and there seems to be a few issues regarding transportation,’ she said. ‘Consequently the books will take some time to reach us. At this stage, we’re concentrating on local suppliers as we need the stock now.’

Similarly, Unity Books, which has physical stores in Wellington and Auckland and is inviting customers to pre-order online this week, warned: ‘Bear in mind we know you’ve all been eyeing the same book and there are only three in stock.’

Unity said supply would be ‘courier/contactless’ and warned ‘the couriers will be maxed’.

Potts said The Children’s Bookshop was also anticipating time delays with couriers, and said the store would be delivering books to its local Christchurch customers.

Booksellers NZ advised members to use the shutdown to maintain relationships: ‘Think about ways you can maintain communication and interest with your customers … regular posting, getting creative and encouraging engagement. People will be home and online more, and they will be in need of community. Remember that bookshops are important community hubs; let’s maintain that role even when we are closed.’

Potts said her store had been very proactive on social media during the month-long lockdown, with its Facebook page ‘being incredibly important in keeping contact’.

‘We’ve posted many articles on things for children to do, ranging from the Harry Potter website (a huge success!), to authors [such as Oliver Jeffers] reading books everyday. Consequently we’ve also picked up a lot more followers and made our presence more well-known.’

Under New Zealand’s level 4 restrictions only essential businesses remained open and only businesses that could continue to operate with staff working from their homes could continue to do so. ‘This is clear guidance that online book sales should cease,’ said Booksellers NZ at the time.

Are you preparing to re-open after New Zealand’s level 4 restrictions are eased? Tell us how you will be operating. Email and let us know.


Category: Local news