22 Jun Brown People Don’t Read. Much. (The Follow-up)

A while back I blogged my bitterness about (among other things) Whitcoulls Books NZ (politely) rejecting my TELESA book for their stores, in a blog called, Brown People Don’t Read. Much.  I shared my hurt and #Loser tears with you – and you were all very encouraging and sympathetic. I’m sure you all joined me in muttering bad words under your breath every time you walked past a Whitcoulls store and maybe you even baked cookies for every independent awesome store that was bold enough and diverse enough to have TELESA on their shelves. Thank you.

Fast forward a few years and there’s a very slim possibility that Whitcoulls and I can be friends. But I need YOUR help. Whitcoulls is calling for people to submit their three favourite books and three favourite authors so they can tally the Whitcoulls Top 100 Books. Voting closes this Sunday 28th June, 2015. Books that make it into their Top 100 will then be stocked and displayed in all their stores throughout NZ.

I’m asking you please, to vote TELESA and/or SCARLET LIES into the Whitcoulls Top 100. Also please consider voting other Pasifika authors and their books into the Top 100. Authors like, Albert Wendt, Sia Figiel, Sieni A.M and poets with  book collections like Selina Tusitala Marsh, Konai Helu Thaman, Karlo Mila, Audrey Brown Pereira, Leilani Tamu, Ruperake Petaia… I’m  tired of walking into NZ big bookstores and NOT seeing our stories. Do they think we don’t read? Do they think we don’t write? Or perhaps they think what we have to say and the stories we have to tell, are not good enough?

It’s highly likely though that they just don’t know about our books and just how many people are reading them and WANT to be able to buy them from their closest bookstore.

It’s time to change that. It’s time to take Pasifika stories into Whitcoull’s stores nationwide. (I think Daniel Tahi is shamahzing  enough to be in Whitcoulls, don’t you?!)

Here’s the link to the –  Whitcoulls  Top 100 Site:

Please vote, please share.

(Oh, and I was rather rash and fia-dramatically announced on Facebook that if a book of mine made it into the Top 100, I would “laugh maniacally, dance the Macarena in front of the nearest Whitcoull’s store while yelling, HA! TAKE THAT WHITCOULLS!” Of course I didnt mean it because that’s childish and so very un-cool, right?! Now some are threatening to hold me to my words and they want video YouTube evidence of such a dramatic celebration. So IF we crack the Top 100, I’m inviting all of you to come and participate in a Macarena flashmob with me at the nearest Whitcoulls…With a dreadful incentive like that- how can you resist voting?!)


I understand that it is something of a risk for a store/distributor to take on my book. There are no other Pacific authors writing in the Young Adult genre.YET. So how are stores supposed to know if there is a market for such a book? Perhaps the traditional book industry believes that brown young adults don’t read much.

As an ex-English teacher of Pacific youth, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to get our young people to read – and enjoy it. To some extent, the book industry perception may be right then. But maybe, we all would read more if there were more books available that we could connect with? And more ‘brown’ books we could actually access easily. I can’t even buy a novel by world-renowned Albert Wendt from Whitcoulls here in NZ and he’s the mostest famous-est Pacific author on the planet. I can’t get a Sia Figiel book from anywhere either. I don’t know about you, but I find that disgusting. When literary masterpieces of Pacific fiction can’t get on the mall bookshelf, what chance does an easy fantasy read of Pacific storytelling have?

The international response to the Telesa e-books has shown that yes, there is an audience who wants this kind of reading material. And no, it’s not just brown people reading it either.

* But publishers, distributors and stores are not going to know this unless they can see the numbers. The cold hard facts. The stats. They need to see Telesa and other books like it rank on the world bestseller lists… Only then will they be willing to publish more of our stories, distribute them, put them in libraries and schools worldwide and even make movies about them. This will not happen  as long as we are content to keep quiet and not make our buying, reading voices heard…



  • Couldn’t agree more and btw, thank you, your posts always make me laugh (actually smirk or quitely giggle at my desk, or muffle my laugh in my daytime bureaucracy job lol because if I let out a wholehearted belly roar then everyone would want to know why I am laughing and then I’d have to say I am secretly reading your blog) I will vote.

    June 23, 2015 at 12:34 am
  • Shirlz

    For sure Lani! You’re my favouritestestest author! On the link you provided above, they’ve asked us to type the surname of the author first, would yours be ‘Young Wendt Lani’ or ‘Wendt Lani’? Or ‘Young Lani’ ?? 🙂

    June 23, 2015 at 4:16 am
  • I’lol be honest, I haven’t read any of your books before. I read a preview of Scarlet Lies though and thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t own a tablet or iPad to download the e-book and have had no luck finding it any of the bookstores where I live. I found it quite sad when I went to vote that your name nor title of the stories didn’t come up as options. I hope you make top 100 not just for the flash mob Macarena but so that a store such as Whitcoulls can start seeing the potential in what you write. Maybe they should read your blog haha. Love reading your blog, funny and I like how you approach serious topics such as menstruation and violence 🙂

    June 24, 2015 at 8:13 pm

Post a Comment