Hager book selling 'like wildfire'

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 12:58 15/08/2014
Nick Fowler
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
GOING FAST: Robbie Burton, of Craig Potton Publishing with the last copies of book Dirty Politics by Nicky Hager. The book has been so popular there is another print run planned.

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The Nelson publisher of Nicky Hager's latest book Dirty Politics says he stands by Hager and published the book because it was of public interest.

Craig Potton Publishing co-owner Robbie Burton said its publication of the book was a "careful and considered" decision.

The book, launched on Wednesday night, was based on thousands of emails revealing the extent of the relationship between blogger Cameron Slater and prominent National Party figures.

The publishers originally printed 4000 copies of the book released yesterday morning, but by midday the office was fielding calls from bookstores all over New Zealand requesting more.

They had another 3000 to dispatch to stores through New Zealand today.

There was a process to getting Hager's books out due to the controversial information in them.

"We have it well rehearsed to do this very quickly, these books are written fast and we have a very intense period of making sure it happens - we just don't broadcast we are doing it."

Burton said he knew about the possibility of the book for "some months". It was edited over two days, and then printed six days after that.

"It was incredibly intense, we move very, very fast. Most books take months. He's a very good writer, very thorough and it has been incredibly, carefully checked."

Burton said Hager's track record made it clear the business wanted to publish his latest investigation. While the publisher had to "go out on a limb" with his books, it was a "very considered" decision.

The business could be liable if action was taken against the book, as it could have breached privacy laws.

"Making that call is scary but we think the value of the book and the public interest defence is enough to justify it," he said.

"He's a very significant writer in New Zealand, despite many politicians wanting to portray him as the enemy. The track record shows he's willing to take on both National and Labour if there are issues he thinks needs to be brought out."

Burton said Hager's books were "enormously significant".

"Despite all the huffing and puffing when it all comes out - saying it is fiction - that's absurd. The man is superb, an internationally rated investigative writer - he's got backers all over the world."

Burton had read the book and was "gobsmacked" by the allegations in it.

He said the timing of the book was not planned, as many speculated. He said Hager acted fast on the information given to him, and the publishers did the same to get the book out.

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He hoped it would inspire people to demand more of their politicians and wanted to see more transparency in blogging.

"I think that whatever the colour of your politics, I think that the shift towards using personal attacks, and using bloggers to make those personal attacks for you, is reprehensible. The book is full of all kinds of examples of how that happens. It's a subtle thing, you may think it's going on but to know the extent of it is appalling. I don't care if it it is a National, Labour or Green politician they need to be called to account. People's disillusion with politics is just completely enhanced by this kind of behaviour.

"We don't need to accept it, we should have politicians who can act in an ethical way, which is why I became completely committed to this book."

In Nelson, Page and Blackmore sold out of two lots of the Dirty Politics book yesterday.

Store manager Stella Chrysostomou said it sold like "wildfire".

"We had 20 that went in a flash then a second 20 that went in another flash.

"It's been at the forefront of everyone's minds today."

She said they had many calls about the book and people coming in asking about it.

- The Nelson Mail

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