A few folk have commented recently that they no longer seem as interested in visiting bookshops. Somewhat timely, there was an article on Teleread along similar lines. I tend to have my phases on this sort of thing, not to mention other sorts of things…the ebb and flow so to speak. There is however, an emerging change, that is, I am buying less and less on the spot. Some of that is intentional as I’ve been trying to reduce the number of books I buy (both in person and online). However, as I spend more time online comparing prices via the wonderful booko, I am very aware that the price of books in Oz is just a wee bit stupid.
To take but one example and don’t get me started on the OED, there is the recently released “Dead in the Family” by Charlaine Harris (no 10 in the True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse series). Previous books have been released in standard paperback for about $22-23 (though I think I paid around around $11-12 for the first 8 as I bought them as part of a box set). The new one has been released in trade paperback (there’s supposed to be a hardcover too but I haven’t seen it) and costs $30! Way more than I’m prepared to pay for a paperback. I travel in the UK and US every other year and tend to buy swags of books, as they’re usually so much cheaper there. For the aforementioned Sookie, I ended up buying the kindle version from the US as it worked out at around $13-14ish, even ordering the hardcover from the US works out cheaper than buying the paperback locally. I sort of suspect that local book distributors are hoping that locals never realise that they can look up books online.
And I s’pose this is the big reason I am somewhat less attracted to bookstores themselves. While they are great for alerting me to interesting books on the market, they are no longer my primary source of books. Even worse, I am tending to note books I see in bookshops rather than engaging in impulse buying. I know now, that many books I see in physical bookshops can be had way cheaper elsewhere. This is more pertinent for overseas stuff that has either been imported or reprinted locally. It will remain the case for a long time to come that I will buy Oz stuff from Oz retailers and bookshops. It’s the overseas stuff, of which Sookie is a goodish example, that I am finding frustration in buying locally.
update: here’s another nice example of the pricing gulf that I’ve just come across. The book in question is “The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future” by Robert Darnton. I spied a blog on it this evening and it sounds fascinating. I’ll leave it to y’all to look it up. However when looking via booko, the price disparity is apparent: ranging from AUD$21 (free delivery) via the US arm of Book Depository through to AUD$48 (+delivery!) through Readings or Dymocks. This is for a book published in the US.
Oh dear, my finger slipped…honest guv, I seem to have bought it. Should be here in a week or so.