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April 23rd, 2007

Thoughts on Books for Today

John Au-Yeung, who works in Galaxy Books, responds to an article about booksellers ripping off everyone on the new Harry Potter:

The article does not come close to presenting the facts: Harry Potter #07 comes in with a cost price of around $30 and the recommended retail price is $45. I didn't study economics, but I can pretty much figure out that selling it below $30 equates to a loss. Add to the fact that the Discount and Department stores (who aren't really a bookstore and know jackshit about what they're selling) who sell the book at a reduce cost can afford to sell it at $22-29 because:

1) They probably got a lower cost price for buying in bulk for their franchise stores; or,
2) They will probably make up for the loss when you go in and pick something up that is sold at the full marked price.

So for most stores, we dot not have the buying power to negotiate a lower cost price or have other items to make up for the loss. Our prices are determined by the publisher and how much we can afford to be competitive (which at the best of times, is near zero). So for someone like Sweetman to say that we go out of our way to sell the book at full price because we're greedy is a downright disgusting insult.

Things are helped much by the publishers themselves: the high cost price for a kids book (granted, a popular one), the strict ordering minimum (failing to reach the minimum of 25, a number that might be steep for some bookshops, you'll have to wait a fortnight or so to be able order a smaller quantity) and just the pressure and hype placed on for booksellers. Fair enough, the publishers know that this is one of the last chances to milk more money from the Harry Potter books and they know they can setup their own rules. But local publishers have always been unhelpful when it comes to pricing. Consider this, how does a local paperback book end up being $21-25 when you can get the same American edition for $15-20 whereby you'll have paid tax and freight and still end up paying for less?


Like John, I don't really give a shit about the new Rowling book, but it's worth noting that the majority of books I buy are from online shops in other countries, because it does work out cheaper than buying them here.

Paper Cities

For those paying attention to these things, at the start of the year I sold a story called 'The Funeral, Ruined', to E. Sedia for her anthology, Moonlit Domes.

The anthology has, since then, been retitled to Paper Cities , and it will now be published by Five Senses Press, who produce Sybil's Garage, which I hear is a nice looking magazine. The title change was requested by the publisher, which is a bit of a shame, since I liked Moonlit Domes, but that's how it is sometimes. I am, however, responsible for Paper Cities, which is a riff on Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities (which is a fine book, if you've never read it). Contributors for the anthology include Hal Duncan, Barth Anderson, Cat Sparks, Kaaron Warren, Forrest Aguirre, Catherynne Valente, Stephanie Campisi, Hal Duncan, Jay Lake, Anna Tambour, Mark Teppo, Darin Bradley, Greg Van Eekhout and more.

It will be launched at World Fantasy in November.

Which, by the looks of it, I will be at. Assuming there's no large financial/life things that come up, that is.