Organisers fear for the future of some of the country's literary events as the commercial sponsorship dollar gets smaller for traditional books.

New Zealand Book Month has been postponed indefinitely as the trust that governs it failed to get funding, the Literary Awards are on hold after BNZ pulled its funding and The New Zealand Book Awards had a shake-up after NZ Post withdrew their funding last year.

Book Month was formed by a group in the literary industry in 2006 to promote reading. It was due to be held in August.

It's understood Whitcoulls - which is closing its Queen St store, it was announced yesterday - has pulled its funding for the event.


Lincoln Gould, chief executive of Booksellers, the project manager and a minor sponsor of Book Month, said the event's postponement came down to a lack of funding from the publishing industry.

"Money wasn't as forthcoming as it used to be and also the book selling industry has also changed and so, as a result of a lot of change and sponsorship money being difficult to get, it was decided that we needed to suspend the Book Month."

But Sir Bob Harvey, chairman of the event's board, wasn't giving up and said he was only $40,000 shy of hosting an event in October.

"It's not over ... We have really been working hard to try and pull a sponsor ... it's a struggle when you're talking big dough in funding.

"Much of our woes unfortunately are with major book publishers pulling out of supporting [Book Month]."

The Government's Creative NZ said it would still sponsor Book Month, but it had not yet received an application from organisers this year.

However, it had already projected to fund more than $140,000 towards both the adult and children's book awards for 2015 and 2016.

Paper Plus has sponsored the event and group marketing manager Lyle Hastings said the company supported the literary sector but wanted Book Month reinvigorated so it was more interactive for the public. "We haven't withdrawn any sponsorship, what we want to do is change it."


NZ Society of Authors chief executive Jackie Dennis, who is also on the event's board, said: "Until solid sponsorship is in place a date can't be set."

Sam Elworthy, Publishers Association of NZ president and NZ Book Awards Trust member, said e-books made up 15 to 20 per cent of the book market. Figures from Nielsen BookScan show New Zealand's hard copy book sales had dipped from 6.013 million in 2009 to 4.85 million last year. Sales were up in the year to date compared with last year.

Meanwhile, BNZ director of retail and marketing Craig Herbison confirmed the company had withdrawn its sponsorship of the Literary Awards after a 55-year run.