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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.


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Apr. 23rd, 2007 12:57 am (UTC)
This is exactly why I have to hand-pick what books I do sell. I can't compete, otherwise.
Apr. 23rd, 2007 01:29 am (UTC)
The basic argument is that local publishers are charging too much. It seems to me that this is because of unfavourable economies of scale rather than blatant greed.

So, what's the solution?
Apr. 23rd, 2007 02:26 am (UTC)
charge less :)

but, i think, the problem is one of a nation. australia is a pretty expensive place for goods, when you stop and consider it in relation to others. we're an expensive country to live in, i'm told. might be this is just the way it's going to stay.
Apr. 23rd, 2007 04:22 am (UTC)
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.

Yep, your "26 Lies" for example, is US $14.99 at amazon.com & even with postage comes in at around AU$28. A&R.com.au has it listed at over AU$40!

Having said that, I am buying the last HP book (have to have the set) from a local bookstore rather than one of the major chains, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they need the extra $10 more than I do (difference between them and a major bookseller) and secondly because I can go in there and waffle about the sort of books I like and I get recommendations. Also, they went out of their way to get a US print only book for MMT. That sort of service is rarely available at the majors.
Apr. 23rd, 2007 05:08 am (UTC)
yeah, i do wish i could support the independent stores more. it's just that to get half the books i'm interested in now, means paying a huge chunk more than to do it myself. it's simple economics for me, though if there's a local thing i want, i use the independents where i can.
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