Dear Mr. Ellis,
I don’t know you, and you definitely don’t know me, little newbie publishing student that I am. I’ve been dabbling in publishing for years, but am only now beginning to really explore the possibilities and scope of it as a career. And not just a career – a vocation.
Some of us were born to make beautiful books. And your staff at Te Papa Press are some of the best at that I’ve encountered. Have you seen that amazing bird book? Seriously? It’s astonishing. They’ve won awards, they’ve increased the scope and reach of the museum, and now you’re just gonna ax the lot? Really?
I know it’s terribly fashionable to sing about how print is dead, but if anyone anywhere should be protecting the art and beauty of printed works, it’s Te Papa. Isn’t that what museums are all about? I guess it comes down to money (these things usually do), but the Press’ budget must be fairly negligible in the broader scheme of things.
I know, I am just a lowly pub student, with little understanding of how the budgets of such large organisations work. But I do know people. And I know that when things are pushed through with rapidity and secrecy that usually means the people doing the pushing KNOW that they’re in the wrong. The haste and smoke-screening that has gone on around this decision, the fact that you’re trying to make it happen quickly and with as little public knowledge as possible suggests that you KNOW that you’re doing the wrong thing.
It’s not just that you’re going to lose talented, committed, amazing people, or that you’ll lose the Press itself, which is an asset to Te Papa, and to New Zealand, it’s that you KNOW you’ll lose face if the public hear about it. Well, we’ve heard. And maybe my little voice won’t be enough to change your mind, but perhaps others will join me.
Only people with something to hide do things in haste and secrecy. Your methods betray you, Sir. Don’t do it. Be better than that. We cannot afford to lose this resource. And neither can you.
Jax, lover of books and book-people.