Category: Books

Seed Library at Central

Some of the Community Libraries have led the way with this, and starting in early November, the Central Library will follow suit with a Seed Library!

More details to come, but briefly, a seed library is a collection of seeds that everyone can ‘borrow’ from.

The Seed Library is stocked by donations from the public, so borrowers are encouraged to ‘return’ seeds saved from the plants they grew from the seeds they borrowed – or other seeds surplus to their requirements. This means that the Seed Library stays stocked for everyone to enjoy!

Of course, you can still use the Seed Library even if unable to contribute seeds.

The Seed Library is for everyone! You don’t need to be a Palmerston North City Library member to borrow seeds.

Matinee Mondays

There will be a series of screenings on Mondays at 10am, between now and Dec 4th on the Mezzanine Floor, provided via the wonderful Beamafilm service.

Beamafilm is a movie streaming platform for documentaries, and independent features. Stream content straight from your TV, computer or device – all you need is a library card!

Come along and you’ll see how you could use Beamafilm at home, or simply take a seat and enjoy a movie, with tea and coffee provided.

Let us know if there’s a specific film on Beamafilm you’d like to watch, and we’ll see if we can play it for you!

First Voice 2023

Once again the First Voice project has delivered a wonderful bundle of writing!

55 Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School students, from 27 non-English speaking backgrounds, produced a piece of writing in their mother tongue. This year, the theme was ‘Unique Nations’. With the assistance of mentors, the pieces were proofread. When the students returned to school, the results were published.

Amazing to see so many languages and scripts represented, from Tokelauan to Urdu, Swedish to Samoan.

You can peruse the finished article at Palmerston North City Library. It’s available as a physical version, and also online via Manawatū Heritage.

Congratulations to all the students involved – you’ve done an excellent job!

Advice for self-publishing children’s books

This article by Annelies Judson, children’s book reviewer, is mainly focused on self-published children’s picture books, but much of the advice applies to any self-published work.

“What I don’t think any self-published author wants is to have boxes and boxes of books from the minimum-size print run sitting in their garage, or having to spend months or years selling one copy here and there to eventually break even. So if I have any advice, it’s this: do your research, accept critique, and pay for professionals.”

DVD rating labels

Kia ora! Someone just asked “why don’t the rating labels on this DVD match?” The spine says R18+ and the front says R16. The answer is that they’re labels from different countries. The only one we need to concern ourselves with is the one on the front – it’s from the Office of Film & Literature Classification (OFLC, now simply called the Classification Office), an official New Zealand body.

DVDs are usually released overseas before coming to Aotearoa. In the case of this one, it may have been a special import which was then given a New Zealand rating once it was here, and the new sticker overlaid.

Rating labels from some countries can look very similar to ours, so if you’re still not sure you can always look a movie up at the FVLB (Film & Video Labelling Body)

Once you know what you’re looking for, overseas labels are easy to spot. For example, we do not have an ‘R18+’ in this country (at time of writing).

In this case, the ‘notes’ (Horror scenes & violence) actually form part of the official rating. It tells you why it received that age designation, and helps you decide if it’s something you want to watch.

If you have any other questions about DVD ratings that aren’t answered by this post about DVD availability, please get in touch!

DVD availability

Kia ora! Here at Palmerston North City Library there are still DVDs you can borrow, at time of writing. But the availability of new ones for purchase is continuing to dwindle. Here are some reasons why.

There are fewer DVDs being produced these days, worldwide. The companies involved make more money from having their work on terrestrial TV, in movie theatres, or on streaming services. It’s a gamble for them to create a physical product and hope it sells.

This is also why many of the big DVD manufacturers no longer distribute to Aotearoa. It’s a small market here, so it’s even more of a gamble.

A library can only legally lend DVDs which have a New Zealand rating label, which is why overseas purchases (and most of the ones on TradeMe) are not available to libraries. As an individual you can buy a DVD from overseas if you like, but a library can’t. This can cause friction, when someone says “the library is missing series 2 of my favourite show, but I saw it for sale online”. It’s usually not something the library can purchase.

Which brings us to vendors. The reason a library has approved vendors is because they must be able to do invoicing and order tracking a certain way. Libraries receive hundreds of titles every year, so the supplier must be able to work with the systems and processes in place. They also need to be a supplier that can be trusted to supply the DVD with the correct rating label (so, again, not TradeMe). Ideally, they would also provide a rudimentary catalogue record for each title and some basic processing. For books, there are library supply companies that do this, but for audio visual companies that’s not often provided.

Palmerston North City Library is committed to keeping the DVD collection going for as long as people want to use it. If you have any further questions, please contact us.

How to get an ISBN for your self-published book

If you’re an author from Aotearoa, you can request an ISBN from the National Library of New Zealand here. There is no charge, although you may be asked to send a copy to the National Library once published. This will allow them to hold a copy for posterity, but also to create a catalogue record for your book, which can be used by libraries everywhere. So it’s actually a pretty good trade. Especially when you consider that in many other countries they charge for ISBNs. It could also potentially be used to prove your copyright claim if one ever comes up. Technically copyright is vested in a work as soon as you write it, but having a copy at the National Library can’t hurt.

Make sure you have all your book details organised before you apply for an ISBN. You can’t just say “book title to be advised”, or change the name of the publisher later. If you do want to do that you may have to create a whole new application, and they will still follow up on what happened with your original request.

Having said that, you will see that you only need basic information. They aren’t asking for number of pages or anything.

You can ask for an ISBN for various formats. Different formats of the same book will need different ISBNs. paperback, ebook, and audiobook being the main ones, but you will see that they differentiate between ePub and Kindle. Yes, you can get a Kindle ISBN to use with Amazon. If you don’t have one for Kindle, Amazon will supply you with a reference number that’s not an ISBN instead.

ISBNs help bookstore owners keep track of stock, and make sure they’re ordering the correct version. A customer needs to know if it’s the paperback or the more expensive hardback, for example. They also help people to search for your book online, if you aren’t a household name (yet) and/or if your book title is a common word. (Looking at you, “It” by Stephen King!)

Contact us if you have any ISBN questions and we’ll do our best to help.

Check out our Local Author Resources page for more handy tips.

Book cover advice for self-published authors

This advice pertains mostly to Fiction titles, but aspects will also apply to non-fiction.

Furthermore, you can choose to ignore anything if you like! This advice is purely based on thousands of book covers seen in the course of a decade or so of buying books for the City Library. But look up the original cover for The Martian by Andy Weir and you’ll see that it’s possible to do really well with a pretty average cover.

In general, looking at successful books in your genre will provide a useful guide. Subtle and not-so-subtle design cues tell readers what to expect from a book, and will signal whether it’s science fiction, romance, or thriller.

In addition, sometimes design goes in phases. Maybe cosy mysteries are all illustrated pictures this year but next year they’re more about photorealism. Keep an eye on what’s happening in your genre.

If you’re not sure what genre you’re writing in, you need to find out. Ask some friends to tell you what they think, or put the question to your newsletter subscribers.

There are groups you can join where people will critique your cover and provide suggestions to improve it. Following these groups for a while before you post anything is a great way to learn, before committing to a cover.

Covers nowadays need to look good in a thumbnail – a small image on a cellphone might be the only thing that a prospective buyer gets to see. So the book title, author name and image all need to work well even if shrunk down.

If you’re good at design you might be able to do it yourself, but book covers are a very specific thing, and your skills may not transfer. If possible, hire a book cover designer with experience in your genre. You might also find something suitable as a “pre-made”. Pre-mades are mockups with placeholder titles – once you’ve bought it the designer will add your title and author name. They may also allow one or two small changes to the design, sometimes at extra cost, sometimes included in the price.

Many people are using Artificial Intelligence to create covers, or assist with the creation. It might be impossible to copyright an AI-created cover, as elements or styles might have been sourced from other artists. At time of writing, AI-assisted covers seem to be pretty safe, but it’s something you should definitely check up on before committing to a print run or even releasing an ebook. It could be a very costly mistake.

The actual size/aspect ratio of your cover for an ebook is quite straightforward, but for a print book you might need to allow bleed at the edges, and you also need to know the thickness of the spine. This will depend on the formatting of your text. If you change font size you’ll need to recalculate the spine width. And if you change the type of paper, this will also affect the spine width. Being two millimetres out can make the cover look unprofessional. There are tools online to help you calculate this, and then you can provide your designer with a template. Just make sure you don’t want to make any changes or you’ll probably incur extra cost! Even changing the wording in a few paragraphs could potentially bump the page count up or down.

Covers for audiobooks are in a different aspect ratio than for books. If you’re using a cover designer (recommended) then this will probably cost extra. Again, it will be worth it because a designer will be able to rearrange all the original elements without distorting them.

Whatever you do, remember that the cover tells people a lot about your book before they even open a page. If you want to be seen as a professional author you need a professionally-designed cover.

The best place to see a whole lot of covers to get an idea? The City Library, of course!

If you have any questions on this, feel free to contact us.

Versions Tuawhā update

Kia ora!

Submissions for this year’s Versions project have closed, and we’re working on editing and proofing, getting ready to publish later in the year. Warmest thanks to everyone who submitted some of their creative work.

In this, the fourth year, we’ve had more submissions than ever before – hooray!

If you want a fun creative project, keep your eye out for the announcement of next year’s Versions submissions. You can write a short story, flash fiction, a poem, a play, a song — we even had a visual arts submission this year!

This is a great way to become a published author – we give you a prompt, you write something, and we take care of all the rest. Then we have a book launch where you can come and celebrate being part of the project.

It’s fun, there’s no pressure, and it might just inspire you to create something else.

If you have any questions about Versions, email content@pncc.govt.nz

Chinese Language week

New Zealand Chinese Language Week 17-23rd September 

New Zealand Chinese Language Week (NZCLW) was first launched in 2014 designed to increase Chinese Language learning in New Zealand. NZCLW seeks to bridge the cultural and linguistic gap by delivering fun and practical initiatives that encourage people to learn Chinese. Celebrate this year with our local Chinese organisations who have organised an exciting range of activities in the city. 

At Central library 

Sunday 17th September 

An afternoon with PN Chinese School  

1.30pm-3.30pm 

Calligraphy, storytelling and crafting workshops.

First Floor, Children’s area 

Raising Bilingual kids in Chinese Culture 

1.15-2.15pm 

Presentation with guest speaker Melody Chang. Run by the Manawatū Chinese Association, Active Learning.  

All parents welcome.

Oroua Room, Ground Floor 

17th September- 23rd September 

Student Work Exhibition 

Come and see what the PN Chinese School have been working on! 

First Floor, across from the Community Languages area 

Display by Manawatū Chinese Association 

Learn more about Cantonese Language! 

First Floor, across from the Community Languages area 

As part of NZCLW 2023 the book ‘Weka’s Waiata’ by Nikki Robinson has been published in Mandarin Chinese, te reo Māori and English. It’s a trilingual children’s book!