Hyndman Publishing Limited

Best advice opens next chapter for family business

On a seven hectare property in Waipara Valley, some of the nation’s best selling non-fiction titles have been published.

Hyndman Publishing Limited (established in 1991) is the culmination of a 90 year, three generation association with the New Zealand book trade. To date it has been responsible for publishing around fifty titles selling over two million copies.

Neil Hyndman runs the business from his Dry Paddocks property in the Waipara Valley, North Canterbury. He moved to the area five years ago, after previously having lived in Dunedin all his life. There he ran the family book selling business – Hyndman’s Booksellers, which was originally established in Invercargill in 1906, and relocated to Dunedin in 1937.

Neil set up a publishing division in 1991, initially specialising in local books. It was the success of this venture that led to the decision to establish a separate and much more focused company and Hyndman Publishing was born.

“In 1996 the difficult decision was made to sell the original book selling retail arm of the business, allowing us to concentrate our energies solely on publishing,” says Neil.

A sound decision going by the results since; total sales to date in excess of two million copies. All publications are non-fiction titles from some of the country’s best known personalities, such as Alison and Simon Holst, Dennis Greville and Nancy Tichborne. They are released at carefully managed intervals, enabling a focused approach to each and every one.

“We have an extensive distribution network that includes many of the smaller stores, which are often overlooked by other publishers. Average sales are around 30,000 copies per title – a good seller in New Zealand is considered 10,000 copies,” says Neil.

Sales are also generated through the Hyndman Publishing’s fundraising company which supplies to schools, pre-schools, churches and sports teams nationwide, allowing the business to reach a much wider market than most other publishers.

Neil says that his background in book selling is what has led to the success of his publishing company. “Having been in the book trade first I understand what works and what doesn’t, what retailers need and what they are looking for – I was at the coal face for 20 years before I took on the challenge of publishing,” he says.

As a publisher Neil is a facilitator and contracts out design, editing, proofing, and printing work to specialists in both New Zealand and China. All distribution is done from the purpose-built warehouse on his Waipara property.

“Overall I work with good people who know their jobs through and through. It’s a finely tuned operation,” says Neil.

Markhams’ association with the Hyndman’s has its roots in the early days of the family business. The original Hyndman Booksellers was a client of Barry Clarke of Turpin and Clarke, which later became Clarke Craw then Markhams Clarke Craw. When Neil took over Hyndman’s Booksellers he became a client of Markhams Clarke Craw Director, Gavin Craw.

Neil says that is was on the advice of both Gavin and his lawyer of the time that he made the decision to move out of book selling and into book publishing. “It was the best advice I ever had,” he says. “I needed help to make the decision, because to sell a family business and set up a new one is not a decision to make lightly.”

Selling up the retail arm of the business also gave Neil and his family the opportunity to move from the city to a country lifestyle in the Waipara Valley, where not only have they based the publishing company but have also established their long-term retirement project, luxury country retreat, Dry Paddocks.

“On advice from Gavin, Dry Paddocks Ltd was set up with an appropriate company structure. We have landscaped the property and are making a good income from the retreat,” says Neil.

“Gavin provides financial advice for the businesses, our family and trusts, really anything and everything. He is my confidante and if I were to run anything business related past anyone, it would be Gavin.”


Published Autumn 2011.

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