U.S. Commercial Service New Zealand Market Brief

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Reading is encouraged at an early age in New Zealand resulting in one of the highest reading achievement rates globally.  Book selling is a competitive business as new technologies change how consumers purchase and/or read books resulting in traditional booksellers facing challenges from on-line shopping and the rise of e-books.  Market size is difficult to estimate as trade data inclusive of e-books and online booksellers is not collated.  In 2011, New Zealand’s physical book imports (HS code 49) totaled US$315 million and physical book exports totaled US$46 million.  In 2011, New Zealand’s imports of U.S. physical books totaled US$38.8 million.  During this period, the United States was the third most important source of physical books after Australia and the United Kingdom.  New Zealand booksellers are experiencing a fall in physical book sales.

Market Entry: The New Zealand book market comprises of educational, library and consumer categories.   New Zealand’s universities and libraries are publicly funded.  U.S. educational texts, particularly in computers/technology, science and business are important to local universities.  

Approximately 90% of the local retail market is handled by the top 30 (mainly multinational) publishing companies:  http://bpanz.org.nz/cms/index.php?option=com_k2&view=itemlist&layout=category&task=category&id=5&Itemid=30

Booksellers New Zealand represents New Zealand’s book retailers. Whitcoulls is New Zealand’s largest book retailer (www.whitcoulls.co.nz) and was one of the first local retailers to offer on-line shopping including e-book options.   (Whitcoulls collates a top 100 book sellers list: www.whitcoulls.co.nz/top-100/)    Nielsen Bookscan provides a weekly breakdown of books sold in New Zealand:  www.booksellers.co.nz/book-news/nzs-bestsellers/nielsen-weekly-bestsellers-list-week-ending-28-july-2012

Parallel importing is legal in New Zealand.

Current Market Trends:  Smart devices, (includes tablets, smart phones and Kindles) are popular gifts and end users are embracing applications provided by the new technologies. 

IDC New Zealand’s mobile research report, records that smart phone ownership by households has jumped from 13% in 2011 to around 44% in 2012.  A Thomson Reuters survey shows baby boomers are leading the race to acquire tablet devices in New Zealand.  The same survey recorded 17% of 540 professionals participating in the survey used their table to read books.  Booksellers New Zealand’s analysis records the average reader of e-books has read 24 books in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 15 books by non e-book readers.  E-books are less expensive to buy verse physical books.

The New Zealand Association of Public Library Managers (APLM) has brokered a nationwide deal to offer e-books and other digital media in public libraries, with OverDrive, the U.S. service provider specializing in public library lending.   The libraries have made significant savings in setting up the technical infrastructure required to integrate the lending system into their websites. Implementation of this project is underway at around 40 library systems across the country.   A local initiative developed by library and educational book supplier Wheelers is currently trialing its homegrown e-book lending service with Tauranga and Hamilton library districts.  The key differences between the two services will be whether patrons pay to borrow some of the titles or borrow all titles for free. Currently, OverDrive doesn’t support the option of charging rentals for some titles while the Wheelers’ service does.

Technology in New Zealand class-rooms increases annually. Some schools are publicly announcing intentions to issue 2013 students with their own computer tablets.  This will result in students and teachers using the Internet more for reference material. 

Main Competitors: New Zealand’s publishing industry mainly focuses on New Zealand authors.  The Book Publishers Association (www.bpanz.org.nz), estimates 600 titles were sold internationally in 2012.  Market share data completed by Nielsen records international authors (imports) dominate the local market in three key categories:

  • Fiction: International 97%;  New Zealand 3% market share
  • Non-fiction: International 68%;  New Zealand 32% market share
  • Children’s: International 85%;  New Zealand 15% market share

New Zealand’s published titles are estimated to account for 16% of the market’s volume and 20% of its value.  (Source:  Book Publishers Association)  The local publishing industry is anticipating economic gains from its 2012 guest of honor status at the Frankfurt Book Fair.  The New Zealand Book Council (www.bookcouncil.org.nz) represents New Zealand authors. 

Australia is New Zealand’s nearest neighbor and most important trading partner.  In 2011, Australian physical book imports (HS Code 49) totaled approximately US$128 million representing 40% market share. Due to the small size of local book orders, some U.S. publishers choose to combine orders with Australian orders to reduce shipping costs.

The United Kingdom is New Zealand’s second most important market for physical book imports.  In 2012, U.K. books represented approximately 20% of the import market. 

Current Demand: The popularity of smart devices in New Zealand will continue to increase the demand for e-books.  Physical books are popular gift items and Christmas is the most important time of the year for retailers but overall the New Zealand market for physical books is likely to continue to fall. 

On-line sales are likely to continue to be popular.   Amazon and other international online booksellers typically offer physical books inclusive of shipping at cheaper rates than local booksellers.  This is partly because on-line sales do not include New Zealand’s 15% Goods and Services Tax.  New Zealand Post, this country’s national provider of postal services is due to open an office in Oregon, USA.  This will allow New Zealand customers to purchase from other U.S. on-line books vendors that do not ship to this country. 

This report and other country profiles are available to all U.S. publishers via the U.S. Commercial Service Publishing, Media & Entertainment Team.  For more information, please e-mail Patricia.Molinaro@trade.gov.

Expert Publishing Blog
U.S. Commercial Service

About U.S. Commercial Service

The Global Publishing, Media & Entertainment Team is a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce and consists of International Trade Specialists that help publishers sell rights and titles internationally. This federal government agency has colleagues in U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide who work with the publishing sector to help them vet potential partners, overcome trade barriers, access contacts and find country-specific market data. In addition, this team coordinates educational webinars, catalog shows, and other programs to support U.S. publishers at domestic and international book fairs. For more information and recent team activities, visit export.gov/industry/paper.


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