Thursday, November 05, 2009

Fair Trade

At the weekend I bought Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall at Dymock's (not even a true independent bookshop) for something around $32. I walked around the corner and there it was on a table out the front of Big W for $20.

Now, I'm happy to buy my potting mix and Dynamic Lifter at Big W, but I know from the other side where those discounts on books come from - the author.

It may not matter much to Dan Brown or Jackie Collins, but if you respect an author, especially a local or someone who is not regularly on best-seller lists, do them a favour and don't buy their books from KMart or Big W or anywhere else that offers a huge discount on new releases.

Consider the difference as an investment in our creative future.

Grisham hits out at 'shortsighted' discounts

Author John Grisham has called the book price war in the US between Wal-Mart, and Target a "disaster" for the book business, warning that the "shortsighted and short-term" discounts would hit publishers, book stores and aspiring authors.

Giant US retailer Wal-Mart—also Asda's parent—sparked the price war when it began offering 10 upcoming titles, including Grisham's new book Ford County priced at $24, for $10.

Speaking on NBC's "Today Show", Grisham said the discounts, of more than 60% on some titles, "seriously devalued the book".

He said: "Its shortsighted, short term, they know what they are doing I think, but if a book is worth $10 then suddenly the whole industry is going to change, you are going to lose publishers and book stores, and though I'll probably be alright, asipring authors are going to find it difficult to get published."

Grisham added that $24 was "a fair price" that "enables me to make a royalty, the publisher to make a profit and the bookstore to make a profit".

Following Wal-Mart's price promotion, both and then Target offered the front-list hardback books at first $9 and £8.99 respectively, though they did limit the number that could be ordered.

Though none of the three US retailers have so far matched the 75% discounts seen in the UK on Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol and Peter Kay's Saturday Night Peter, the developments led to the American Booksellers Association asking the Department of Justice to intervene over what it called "predatory pricing".

In a letter to the DoJ it said: "What's so troubling in the current situation is that none of the companies involved are engaged primarily in the sale of books. They're using our most important products -- mega bestsellers, which, ironically, are the most expensive books for publishers to bring to market -- as a loss leader to attract customers to buy other, more profitable merchandise. The entire book industry is in danger of becoming collateral damage in this war."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Lately I've been ...

I gave up on Soul Mountain. I don't give up on many books, and I know it's terrible, but I just didn't care about our narrator - in the first, second or third person.
So I came, finally, to Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveller, which I have meant to read for years. The first half had me, I'm sure, reading with mouth agape, it's just so gob-smackingly fine. Now it's gone all silly and annoyingly postmodern. Surely it'll come right.
But in the meantime I've got my grubby little hands on Hilary Mantel's Booker-winning Wolf Hall. God, she's good. If A Place of Greater Safety is one of the best historical novels ever written, this may well come close. Philippa Gregory, read it and weep - even better, read it and vow never to write that crappy Tudor trash ever again.
Next up, Antony Beevor on The Battle for Spain.


To the new Madonna greatest hits album, over and over, and it's not even me playing it.

Broad beans, rocket and beetroot fresh from the garden.

Rain. At last.
Oh and Drew Barrymore movies.