In just over five years, the BWB Texts series of ‘short books on big subjects’ has become an essential part of the New Zealand publishing and political landscape.
The full list of BWB Texts now includes over 50 titles, constituting an acclaimed catalogue of non-fiction writing on themes such as finance, politics, economics, New Zealand history and science, and personal memoirs.
The series was the idea of Wellington publisher Tom Rennie, who saw a gap in the market for affordable titles that could be read in an evening on fit-in-your-pocket paperbacks, as well as through digital distribution on smart phones, e-readers and tablets.
Rennie also realised that he could commission writing from experts who were too busy to commit to a full-length volume, and open a door to younger voices.
All of his assumptions have been realised, with many titles from the diverse list receiving reprints, as demand exceeded expectations.
That said, no one is getting rich out of this – BWB Texts is a non-profit programme made possible by the BWB Publishing Trust – but the payback for publisher Bridget Williams Books has been the acclaim for what has become one of New Zealand’s most influential platforms for discussion, ideas and critical analysis.
Tonight’s event to mark the half-hundred publishing milestone – Luminous Moments to Island Time: The BWB Texts Story – will see Tom Rennie joined by BWB Texts authors at City Gallery for a celebration and discussion of the imprint’s journey to date.
Participating authors will include Mike Berridge (The Edge of Life, and Sugar, Rum and Tobacco, with Lisa Marriott), Ralph Chapman (Time of Useful Consciousness), David Hall (Fair Borders?), Philippa Howden-Chapman (Home Truths), Prue Hyman (Hopes Dashed?), Mike Joy (Polluted Inheritance), Kathleen Kuehn (The Post-Snowden Era), K. Emma Ng (Old Asian, New Asian), Vincent O’Malley (Haerenga), and Max Rashbrooke (The Inequality Debate, and Wealth and New Zealand; Max also launches his new, big BWB book on Wednesday).
Doors open at City Gallery from 5:15pm for refreshments before the event, which runs from 6:00 to 7:00 pm. It’s free and all are welcome.