Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Crosshatch (a book rant)
The habits of publishers in Australia sometimes utterly bewilder me.
For instance: I read Charlaine Harris' first Sookie Stackhouse novel recently. Lots of fun (Dead Before Dark is the title). O-kay. If I want to buy any more to read from an Australian bookshop (thus supporting local etc) then I have to buy the locally available editions. Which not only have stupid covers in comparison to the charmingly quirky illustrations on the US covers (a small detail, I know, but interesting - why change something distinctive for something which is boring, which the UK covers are?) BUT also cost a BOMB more.
US price for items in this series which have been out for a while: $US7.99. Which even with the battered Australian dollar is under $15AU, plus postage.
Bookshelf price for the same titles here, is $AU30 and upwards. Per book. Hello? The words are the same. They are larger format than the US paperbacks, with aforesaid daft boring undistinguished thematic covers. This isn't Booker Prize material, folks, it's fun reading. When one book is the price of two cinema tickets (and doesn't have to be), well, the readers make their choices too.
I can buy the next five in the series from bookdepository.co.uk for under $60AU, delivered to the door. I couldn't buy two at the local bookshops for that. Even at amazon, and adding the postal charges for five books, beats the local price. (The Book Depository does free worldwide shipping, and discounts many titles as well).
Something is rotten.
Another example: A while ago a colleague was trying to track down a picture book for a present; it had been mentioned on the radio. Two different local bookstores quoted 6-8 weeks and prices ranging from $29.95 to $32.95. From an online retailer, it converted to under $13 AU and arrived a week later. But do any chain booksellers tell you, truthfully, that they're only observing the Recommended Retail Price when it suits them? No, they don't - how many mug punters have been caught by that little game?
I know I might find the Charlaine Harris books in the local library. Might. If it was open after hours and had the stock and I wanted to use the petrol. But its collection is incomplete and its hours incompatible.
Rant over. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
PS. and the audiobook versions of Charlaine Harris' work aren't available on audible.com, if you live in Australia. Like, it seems, a lot of stuff. I wish authors/publishers would do better at audiobook rights, think outside the US market. There are customers here too.....