Dymocks have led the charge to abolish the PIR, and their CEO often claims that his Hong Kong shops prove the point. The table below summarises the earlier data and incorporates prices from Dymock’s Harbour Centre Hong Kong store. Only seven of the top ten are available (Why isn’t Chris Tsiolkos published overseas? Why are Dymocks not promoting this Australian author in Hong Kong?).

It is true that their HK prices, even if adjusted for a notional Australian GST to make the comparison fair, are always cheaper than Dymocks Australia. But then Dymocks is rarely the cheapest in Australia. As the totals at the bottom of the table reveal, for the top ten Dymocks is $61.27 more than the lowest in Australia (in a quick survey of Brisbane CBD stores; possibly there are even cheaper sources out there) and about $32 (after GST adjustment) than its own store in Hong Kong. But the Hong Kong prices are only $3.26 less expensive than the Australian lowest prices, and actually $11.52 more expensive after adjustment for GST.

As many of the articles and comments written the past few days on this subject attest, the most important argument, except for economic rationalists, is not cost per se. Even the PC report says, it is really about “cultural externalities” — ie. whether we want to have an Australian publishing industry, support Australian authors and local independent bookstores (versus a Dymocks or BigW that brings in remaindered books from the US market cheating authors and publishers of their royalties, but giving these booksellers bigger profit margins and Bob Carr his bonus).

However, let’s at least begin with getting the facts straight. Dymocks HK is only cheaper if you avoid GST and bring them home yourself, and manage to stay under luggage weight limits. It can also be noted that if one adjusts for GST, Amazon has only one book (bought singly) that remains cheaper than the lowest Australian price while Book Depository has four (only three have >$5 differential).

Notes to table: Colour code: bright-green=lowest price; light-green=next lowest or broadly comparable.