Feb 18, 2011

A year in book buying: tallying the receipts

Only a fool would believe the public will rush to spend two -- three times as much for their product in order to sustain book stores just because they're nice. writes fiction editor at Australian Book Review Chris Flynn.

Last December Chris Flynn — fiction editor for Australian Book Review — tallied up his book purchases for the year and blogged about it on Fly the Falcon. He compared the prices of purchases made at independent bookstores, chains and online.

In light of the discussion about the future of the book industry sparked by the REDgroup news we thought it pertinent to run today:

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6 thoughts on “A year in book buying: tallying the receipts

  1. wilful

    I am totally unsurprised by your figures. Borders is hugely uncompetitive in price, if I know what I want I go straight to the Book Depository, if I’m looking for a gift, not sure what I want, I go to my local independent store.

  2. zut alors

    For Brisbane bookworms not obsessed with reading the newest releases hot off the press there is the Lifeline Bookfest held each January and June. The books are second hand and there is an enormous selection (from memory I think the equivalent of 2 kilometres of trestle tables laden with books).

    At the recent Bookfest I scored 21 books for $51, most of them were in near-pristine or good condition. And sorting through the piles is a great treasure hunt. The thought of browsing in a Borders or Angus and Robertson chainstore would never occur to me.

  3. David Lobbezoo

    I haven’t used Book Depository but does it always ship for free? Failing which is the comparison as spectacular as presented?

  4. MLF

    As a lover of both record stores and bookshops, in particular Borders, I am afraid you speak the truth.

  5. Moira Smith

    Yes, as Flynn says ‘A defensive position has been established whereby we, as readers, are supposed to feel bad for buying books overseas rather than in our local stores …. all very well if the only books you’re interested in are top 10 titles’.

    I generally only buy secondhand (old! books – as if any book could be ‘old’!), and if my local secondhand bookstore doesn’t have them, I go online. Some of the books I buy are eg from USA (eg via Amazon or Abebooks), often ex-library copies in perfectly readable condition (especially since I am about to trash them further by falling asleep reading and then rolling over them in bed) so that’s fine for me. Sometimes I pay $1 for the book and around $6 in postage for a book I couldn’t have bought locally or would have had to have ordered (if in print) at great cost. Good value methinks.

    Books have been too expensive in Australia for many years. I remember my University days in the 80s and shudder at the extra we Aussie students had to pay for essential texts. Something had to give.

    Buying used books is recycling – that’s good, right? Only thing that bothers me, is that the publisher and author (and illustrator etc) don’t get a look in in this class of transaction.

  6. apoldad

    Dropping the $1000 threshold will eliminate private book imports. To pay the GST, you’ll need an expensive Customs Broker and Customs will also charge a “user pays” fee to cover the cost of their bungled computer system of ’05.

    Government will not be dropping the threshold as both sides of politics supported it being raised from $250 years ago, no real worry then as long as you trust politicians.

    The publishing industry will likely follow the music industry over time. I kind of hope the small local bookshop/music shop re-opening, a bit of justice considering the big chains once closed them down. Next stop the grocery store? Wouldn’t that be something?!

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