Book Publishing in the Pacific Islands

Linda Crowl

  1. Introduction
  2. What Qualifies As Book Publishing?
  3. Considerations For Book Publishing In The Pacific Islands
  4. Power To The People - Everyone Can Be A Publisher
  5. Publishing Standards
  6. Intellectual Property And Recognition
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Bibliography


Printing in the Pacific Islands began in the Society Islands in 1817 and continued as missionaries translated the Bible and printed alphabets, primers and grammars for native peoples (Lingenfelter 1967). With varying degrees of success, book publishing has continued as a means of communication for colonial governments, independent governments, individuals and transnational agencies (e.g., USP Library 1985). All publishers in the Pacific Islands have to consider production, marketing and competition. Despite severe obstacles in resources, training and transportation, publishing has gradually increased and control has diversified. With its growth have come questions of publishing standards and recognition of intellectual property. As with other human endeavours, politics plays a role in book publishing.



The term 'book' means "number of printed or written sheets of paper bound together in a cover" (Hornby 1989:125) and this includes children's books, comic books, reports and proceedings, novels, collections of short stories and/or poetry, histories, bibles and religious materials, and scholarly works. Number of pages is not an issue. The term 'publish' means "prepare, have printed and distribute to the public"; 'publishing' is the "profession or business of publishing books"; and 'publisher' is a "person or firm that publishes books" (Hornby 1989:1009). For this paper, publishers are individuals, firms, schools, universities, governments, and organizations that produce and distribute books.
     The region under consideration is the South Pacific, which stretches from Irian Jaya and Palau in the west, to the Northern Marianas and to Rapanui in the southeast. Although Pacific Islands, Hawai'i and New Zealand are excluded because they are developed nations; therefore, they face very different issues relating to book publishing compared with the other island nations.


© Linda Crowl 1996
This article was originally printed in the Fiji Library Association Journal, No. 35, 1996