Gecko Press CEO on finding a 'good book'

Children's book publisher and rebel CEO, Julia Marshall, shares her vision for finding and publishing 'curiously good books'

Julia Marshall Gecko Press portrait books

Gecko Press was launched in 2005 by Julia Marshall, who chose to live in Wellington after years of living in Stockholm. She loves that it has a centre, is walkable, and is built around the sea.

"It's a great size for doing business. It's easy to meet people doing different things - art, tech and business. All here."

Gecko Press translates and publishes children's books into English from the best authors and illustrators in the world. The books are sold in New Zealand, Australia, North America and the UK. It also publishes a small number of author/illustrators from New Zealand.

Julia Marshall Gecko press

It’s a great size for doing business. It’s easy to meet people doing different things – art, tech and business.

Julia Marshall, Gecko Press

Gecko Press Dorothee de Monfreid dog illustration

When Gecko Press began, 1% of books published in the UK were in translation (compared to 40% in Europe).

When Julia reported this number to the Swedish publisher of Margaret Mahy he said, "I'm surprised that figure is so high. You're either an idiot or it's a niche. Let's hope it's a niche."

Fifteen years on, the figure is said to be closer to 5%. In 2017, Gecko Press was awarded New Zealand Publisher of the Year. She has now taken on the post of President of the Publishers Association of New Zealand.

Gecko Press works hard to stay true to its vision of publishing curiously good books from around the world – to actively publish books that are not mainstream, and sometimes challenge convention.

"If a book touches us emotionally and stays with us lastingly, if we think it adds something to the book world, then we publish it. We publish thoughtful, philosophical, funny and entertaining books, in the interests of encouraging all children to love to read - this is a right, not a nicety."
 

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