Tuesday, September 10, 2013

buying books

Them there books sure are 'spensive these days. Sigh. If I had a dollar for every time someone said this to me...*

And I know. It's true. $30ish dollars for a trade paperback adult novel isn't a small amount of money. $30 is my share of the kitty in my sharehouse for a whole week. It's just over four days travel on your MYKI. Around 3 pints of beer - and don't try to tell me you've never dropped that in one evening without even thinking twice about it. 

Purchased and borrowed from a variety of sources.

Books cost a lot. We're such a teeny tiny market in this country, we just can't compare with America or even the UK. Things just cost more here. I'm sure that if we lived in the States my housemates and I could buy way more stuff with our $30 each a week.

I totally get the allure of Amazon and the Book Depository. But try to understand that they are basically the devil. How can we expect to have a local publishing industry if people continue to send their money to companies that don't even pay tax in Australia?

Mark Rubbo, the managing director of Readings, in a recent interview with the Design Files said: '...the huge share that online booksellers, especially the overseas ones, have is another challenge. It galls me that these monkeys don’t have to collect GST – they rip the guts out of local publishing and bookselling and on top of that they avoid paying tax.'

If you love Australian books, support them with your money. Buy books. Make a point of buying locally. If you want to buy books online, try Bookworld. It's not as good as buying from a real shop, but it's easy and quick, they offer some sweet discounts.

Perhaps aim to buy one book from a local independent bookshop each month. This is my rule, though usually I end up buying more and have to sacrifice something else - usually credit card repayments. Then source your other reads elsewhere if you want, especially if you're a voracious reader or poor  (or both). Libraries, secondhand bookshops, Bookworld, the Little Library ... or maybe work for a publishing house so you can get copies of some books (for me: Wild Awake) to keep for your own. Better yet - buy kids' and YA books - they're cheaper!

Maybe you love reading so much you want to be a book blogger. Publishers will probably be quite happy to send you books to read and review - and there's a vibrant YA blogging community in Aus, with readers from all over the world.

I just ask one thing. Bloggers, when offering your readers the option to click through and buy the book, consider not linking to those devilish sites mentioned above. You're in the business of selling books too, by recommending them. When you've been able to read a book for free, make sure you do right by its publisher, and especially its author.

Oh so many great Australian books!

There's so little money in books and publishing. Let's just make sure we put it in the right places in order to keep all the good stuff coming back in return.

*(I could buy so many more books) 


  1. *Applauds*

    It is my great shame that I bought a Kindle when they first came out, and now I'm kinda stuck with giving Amazon a fair chunk of change for my ebooks.

    But I buy as many real-life books as I do ebooks, and when I do it's from Readings online (free shipping, people!). Or I pop into Rendezvous Books in Bourke Street. I love my local Robinsons Bookshop (Victoria's oldest general independent bookstore!) and if I'm ever near a Readings Bookstore, I have to go in and buy at least one.

    This is important, thank you for posting something.

    1. Thanks for your support, Danielle, I really appreciate it. Don't be ashamed of the Kindle - I think so long as we do things like, as you say, shop at real bookshops as well then that's great.

      It's just important to be aware of where the money is going to (and coming from).

  2. Yesyesyes! (And YA books are still great value - less than the cost of a full-price movie ticket.)

    1. Exactly! And you can read them again and again. Plus we all know the books are always better... :)

  3. My only reason for my Amazon account is that our kids got a Kindle app on their iPads and I want to be able to help them, so I, too, got a Kindle app. I have discovered that while my students can't download from iBooks, because the school has blocked all such downloads lest they get games, they can, in fact, download mobi files as they're straight from the Net. Alas, anything free is likely to be Project Gutenberg(classics too hard for most) or self-published stuff with no quality control, at least they CAN download. I agree with you about buying local. Amazon is buying up one thing at a time and offering free and cheap to put others out of business, according to what I have read, and a monopoly is not likely to result in cheap books.

    I do reviews mainly as a supplement to my pitifully small library budget, as I can donate the books afterwards. Unfortunately, at least one big publisher has stopped giving print copies for reviewing and is only offering Netgalley ARCs. I have let them know I'm disappointed and that they should inform me if they ever reconsider their unwise decision.

    That's another thing. I love ebooks, but I mainly buy them because I have run out of space on my shelves and sometimes I hear about a wonderful new book and just can't wait. But it's likely to be almost as dear as the print copy, so that's okay. Still, it doesn't help bricks and mortar bookshops like my favourite, Collected Works in Melbourne.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Sue. You're so right about the monopoly not actually working out for us in the long run.

      Unfortunately, I really understand where the publishers are coming from when it comes to limiting print ARCs - it's just so prohibitively expensive to print advance copies. Personally I think it's better to review from a print book (it's that whole book/reading experience) but it's much quicker and easier digitally.

      I know this doesn't help you, though! And let's not get started on woeful school library funding...

  4. This is such a vext question , Kate. My problem is availability - most bookshops only stock what is new/popular. I used to order in from our only local shop (a chain), until they couldn't source 'White Walls', by Tatyana Tolstoya - I got it on Fishpond.
    Even big cities have few really wonderful bookshops - there was one in Double bay (where I found my lovely copy of Randall Jarrell's 'Poetry and the Age') - word is it became the victim of a large chain opening up in nearby Bondi Junction.

    Cds are the same. Online ordering keeps my man sane (he has the largest collection of Giant Sand this said of Tuscon). And where else could you buy Timbre Timbre, The Deadly Snakes and The Watertower Bucket Boys?

    I love bookshops, and buy books wherever I can, online if necessary. Second hand is great - I'm all for recycling everything - after all, Mother earth has borne the cost of their production.

    And books are great value. I pick up ones I bought 30 years ago and reread with great pleasure. Many times.

  5. Is Fishpond as bad as Amazon? They're my go to store for Aussie books because they offer free shipping.

    I think a lot of Americans have sticker shock when they see the price of an Aussie book because we're so used to our online discounts. I've made a concerted effort to buy directly from Barnes & Noble (our remaining big brick and mortar book retailer) and indie book shops after seeing my beloved Borders and a lot of B&Ns close down. Now I have to drive at least 20 minutes to go to my nearest bookstore! After reading my fair share of Aussie YA, all I have to say is that it is worth every penny. I usually get the Aussie editions of books from either Fishpond or Mandee of Vegan YA Nerds, but I try to buy the US versions when they're released so that more publishers will pick up these amazing books.


  6. Hi Maggie, yes, I think Fishpond and Booktopia are both Australian-based - and Australian-owned? Not sure - and would pay our GST (goods and services tax), so go for it! I don't think anyone is as bad as Amazon...

    It's also great to hear you buy the US versions of our books! I do the same with American/UK buy-ins here. And it was so exciting at work recently, we received a big box of the US edition of Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil - so I pinched one to keep for myself. So lovely, and hardback too. We don't do nearly enough hardbacks in Australia!

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