The Spinoff Book by Toby Manhire
Five years ago, The Spinoff burst onto New Zealand's media scene. In its first year, its content was read a little over six hundred thousand times. Now it boasts that one million New Zealanders visit the website at least once a month. It's fanbase is growing and so are the accolades.
Edited by Toby Manhire, the book includes not only The Spinoff's best work but also a handful of new and exclusive essays.
The book is divided off into sections that mimic the labyrinth that makes The Spinoff, well, The Spinoff. The book groups its pieces into topics like family, that election, New Zealand made, media, viral, and 15/3 (a reference to the March terror attacks in Christchurch). The sections allow you to read the book from cover to cover, or to dip in and out, lingering on topics that interest you, or stumbling across new ones.
Within the pages, as Manhire says, is a "sampler box" of The Spinoff.
Madeleine Chapman reflects on her country-dividing piece ranking all of New Zealand's potato chips, while Leonie Hayden laments the lack of Māori media with a pen. Chris McDowall's impressive visual representation of MMP sits alongside Calum Henderson's quest to find out what gunge is. The pieces might sound like polar opposites - but they are all unique, incredibly well-written, and are impressive reads on the many facets of what makes up our country's collective identity in the 21st Century.
The wacky collection also includes full-colour artwork by illustrator Toby Morris.
His work also graces the cover of the book and it is superb. Morris captures some of the Aotearoa's modern cultural icons -- Red Peak, Lorde, Paddles the cat, Winston Peters and Ricky Baker are all immortalised in Morris's signature style.
There is no denying that The Spinoff has changed the face of New Zealand's media. This book is a wonderful celebration of everything it has achieved over the past five years. For lovers of the website it makes for a wonderful physical representation of the digital format. For those who have no idea what The Spinoff is, it makes for a delightful introduction. Here's to the next five years, and many more.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
Penguin, RRP $38.