Tom Ballard


2002/113 Tom Ballard interviewed by David Finkelstein at Queen Margaret University College in Edinburgh on 22 November 2001

000 Time in New Zealand was limited. Worked for Collins 1966 -68 the Government Printing Office 1983 - 1986.

043 Was MD of Collins New Zealand. Trainee at Collins. Decided to go elsewhere to Paton's, good relationship.

059 15 years at Patons, 10 of these as a MD. 1965 playing golf and Ian Collins asked him to come back. Had kept in touch with Collins

091 Asked to run New Zealand operations, a selling job. Offered to him as they had a stationery factory. Wanted someone with a print and publishing background.

111 Collins run by family. Approved of by them so agreed to go and his family decided that they would go too.

132 Spent six months in Collins Glasgow and London. June 1966 went to New Zealand. Most people in Glasgow didn't know what the New Zealand organisation did. Collins were large scale in comparison to most New Zealand publishers.

162 Reid and Collins and Whitcomb and Tombs. Collins was the biggest stationery and diary manufacturers. Import restrictions applied to stationery and not to books so made stationery in New Zealand.

185 2 ¾ million people in New Zealand in the 1960s. Big fish in small pond.

210 Paper availability not a strong reason for lack of indigenous publishers. Was an effective, could get it but the only supplier was New Zealand Forest Products, with whom they had a good enough relationship.

235 Paper was the reason some book manufacturing was done abroad in for example in Japan.

261 Reid book 'The River Rules my Life' by Mona Anderson about life in a sheep farm in New Zealand. Bookseller 300 - 400,000. Printed elsewhere in Australia. Standard and printing good. Design and typography not good.

285 Lots of jobbing printers in New Zealand. Needed to get books produced but the Government Printing office would only produce for themselves. Had to send abroad to Hong Kong and Japan.

312 Equipment at printing firms in Japan. Standard of printing high.

325 Printing beginning to blossom in the 1960s. Even in 1983 there was still a shortage, still being printed in Japan as could not compete.

343 Collins factory was purely stationery and binding. Collins were very paternalistic and many men moved to New Zealand from Glasgow Collins. The manager wanted only to employ people from Glasgow as he thought they were faster.

370 Training in New Zealand and the apprentice system. 50 -55 people in factory. College of Printing in Auckland, day release.

388 Government Printing Office paid higher wages than other firms so could attract better people. Were better equipped.

400 Costs of publications were controlled for Government Printing. All equipment was used purely for government publications and they needed him to move into a more commercial side.

419 When he moved to New Zealand most people thought it would be a cultural desert, it wasn't. His job was to look for the gaps in publishing non fiction.

445 He and his editor would meet people and try to work out where there was a cultural gap and fill it. Because of import restrictions, eg. couldn't get marmite and bovril and could only get vegemite as this was produced there.

468 By 1980s had swung the other way. When arrived got a book tour round the country, the bookstores were very good.

502 Whitcomb and Tombs in Christchurch in 1960s the largest in the world. Lots of memoirs and picture books. Lots of British books, not many American books.

523 Tour helped to get a sense of the New Zealand market, the gaps that needed to be filled. Bookseller would inform you of what books they wanted, some were quite parochial but others including book 'Islands of the Gulf' (Auckland Gulf). Worried that it had local appeal, but it went to three editions.

550 Disadvantage of not producing in New Zealand was that if a book took off you could not reprint that quickly. In Glasgow could reprint in a week eg. Attenborough's book took off and because had printing side could reprint quickly. In New Zealand would take three months to reprint and for the book to be shipped back.

575 Ray Neil book 'Island to One's Self' about a castaway on an island. Billy Collins loved this book and sent 5,000 copies across. To advertise book had competition to send someone as a castaway. Picked naval officer and the navy dropped him off, great publicity. Could not get reprints quick enough so never sold as well as it could.

651 Booksellers could buy books from UK direct or through Auckland depot. Penguin stopped this and closed the market so that you could only buy through the depot.

681 Sold more that 10,000 of hardback Alistair Maclean and Agatha Christie in three months, more than Australia with much less population. Good book market.

701 Tried to promote author with a book tour, easy to get on radio as not many visitors. He had a terrible stutter so was difficult to promote.

746 Collins produced a couple of novels, too arthouse for the average New Zealander. uncontentious country, good relations in 60s. Different social climate now.

772 Maori artist book. 5,000 copies. Sold them in 6/7 years.

785 Government Printing Office job. 1983 in Collins classics, bit disenchanted. Saw job in Government Printing Office and thought he would apply for it.

817 At 58 years old was offered a 3 year contract. Moved to Wellington.

843 Son went to school in Wellington and stayed there for University.

859 Difference in shops which were full of imported goods. Confidence of New Zealand in the air. Multi cultural factory which worked. Multi cultural society; cultural diversity.

907 Difference in production practices. Didn't go to the government printing office in the 60s. In 80s noticed balance between creation of type and setting. A lot of emphasis on accuracy. Magnificent factory way ahead technology, not used for wider advantage.

935 There was a second factory for telephone directories. Equipment in factory was under utilised.

962 Still few book printers in New Zealand. In Collins there was a battle between publisher and printers who needed a strong board who said how it would work.

978 Collins became to realise you could use other printers, same in New Zealand.

985 End.

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