An online bookstore, Kiwi Kids Read Kiwi Books, has been launched to link New Zealand authors and illustrators creating books for children and teens with book buyers and young readers around the country.
The brainchild of Wanaka author Kate Gordon, the bookstore went live mid-November with eight founding authors who have written an array of picture books, early readers, chapter books, fiction novels, and graphic novels for 0-15-year-olds. This week, the 22nd author will be added to the site and the 83rd book for children and teens.
Ms. Gordon independently published her first middle-grade novel last year entitled Lily and the Unicorn King, a fantasy featuring brave friends, ponies, and unicorns, and she was looking for ways to more easily reach potential readers when she came up with the idea for the website. ‘I love being an indie author and part of an ever-growing community of indie authors in New Zealand and around the world,’ says Ms Gordon. ‘Our books are available on the big global online retailers which are great for reaching overseas readers, but shipping costs make it expensive for Kiwis to buy our paperbacks via these outlets and have them delivered in New Zealand.’
What if, Ms Gordon asked herself, Kiwi authors could sell directly to the book buyers and send out their own books to the readers, eliminating storage and freight costs? What if Kiwi authors could earn more of the sale price of each book because the website focussed on creating a great, collaborative, inclusive community of Kiwi writers and readers, rather than profits?
Ms. Gordon discussed the concept with several authors and received only positive feedback about the opportunity to reach the New Zealand market. She opted to focus on books for children and teens as being a niche she was familiar with and a market where physical books, rather than eBooks, were still popular. With the assistance of local web and graphic designers, Ms. Gordon created the Kiwi Kids Read Kiwi
Books website to offer New Zealand authors writing for the 0-15 age groups a new channel via which they could sell their books. The online bookstore offers book buyers a familiar, secure, and seamless experience.
‘I don’t want to take away from the fantastic work done by mainstream and independent bookstores around the country, many of whom offer significant support to New Zealand authors. But they have only limited shelf space and a whole world of books to choose from. New Zealanders love backing other New Zealanders – even more so in these COVID-impacted times – so Kiwi Kids Read Kiwi Books is very much about offering Kiwis the chance to find books written by talented Kiwis. We’re delighted to have books which include Te Reo and New Zealand Sign Language available, as well as many books set in New Zealand which help our children read their “own stories”.’
Author queries arrive most days with submitted books being sent to an independent selection panel who assess the quality, marketability and suitability of each book before the chosen books go into the online bookstore. ‘It’s exciting and humbling to have so much support
from the authors involved with Kiwi Kids Read Kiwi Books,’ she says. ‘Sometimes it still feels like such a
simple idea, but that’s often good, isn’t it? To know your core focus and run with it.’
The Kiwi Kids Read Kiwi Books online bookstore currently features 22 New Zealand children’s books authors, with more authors to be added in the future. The talented individuals include:
• Auckland authors Anya Forest (New Lynn), Jenn Rackham (Te Atatu), Yvette Carol (North
Shore), Kate S. Richards (Titirangi), Karen McMillan (Hibiscus Coast), Rose Stanley
(Waimauku), Jodie Troughton (Buckland’s Beach) and illustrator Lisa Allen (Muriwai).
• Elaine Williams and Rachel Weston from the Bay of Plenty.
• Kate Lattey from Foxton.
• Anna Kenna and Ben Spies from the Kapiti Coast.
• Mr. Mac from Mount Manganui.
• Tom E. Moffatt and Jenny Chapman from Rotorua.
• Deborah Hinde and Rachel Numan from the Waikato.
• Denika Mead from Wellington.
• Donna Blaber from Whangarei.
• Josephine Carson-Barr, currently travelling around New Zealand in a caravan.
Kiwi Kids Read Kiwi Books Founder, Wanaka author Kate B Gordon spent 90% of her childhood reading books about ponies and magical adventures. The other 10% she spent galloping around the garden on an imaginary horse – until she was able to ride a real pony of her own. Now she’s penning fantastical adventure stories about brave friends, ponies, and unicorns. Kate is inspired by the magical mountains of Central Otago in New Zealand’s South Island where she lives with her husband, three dogs, and two cats. She’s currently working on the second book in the Unicorn King series called Sasha and the Warrior Unicorn.
The Kiwi Kids Read Kiwi Books online store web address is https://kiwikidsreadkiwibooks.nz/