Cracking post this about book buying and selling in Australia from a book buyers perspective:
The Australian Booksellers Association has been pushing on behalf of retailers for the government to introduce GST on imported goods under $1000, which would effectively raise the price of books on Book Depository by 10%. On 18th December a Productivity Commission inquiry was announced to examine the concern of retailers, so expect a war of words between retailers and consumer groups in the next 6 months. It is worth pointing out that in the case of my 118 books, adding 10% to their purchase price would result in a spend of $1636.38, still $1102.50 less than had I purchased them at Borders, and $714.33 less than Readings.
via Fly the Falcon: Book Depository vs Book Stores.
Fascinating story this. I’ve heard and been part of a few conversations about this phenomenon for some time. It is interesting both from the perspective of the booksellers and the publishing, and the state’s perspective. It demonstrates the way that external actors can undermine a state’s tax base. I wonder if, like in some US states, the government will actually start imposing a sales tax on foreign/non-state based outlets?
Take Stieg Larsson’s international bestseller, The Millennium Trilogy The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. Even on sale, they’re still $16 more expensive in store than from the UK, including delivery.
That is the dilemma for one of Australia’s biggest book sellers. Dymocks is considering moving its online business offshore because it says it cannot compete with cheap, online sales.
Dymocks chief executive Don Grover says overseas retailers have an unfair advantage because they do not pay GST.
“Dymocks has been in the business for 130 years, and we’re actually now having to make a decision about whether or not to move our online business offshore,” he told the ABC.”
It would actually make more sense for us to send books from an overseas location back into Australia and avoid the GST. To give a competitive advantage to overseas web sites of 10 per cent is just unsustainable.”
Don Grover says his company is already trimming its margins, and the success of cheap, international web sites is making it hard to compete.
via Book battle: Dymocks considers offshore option – ABC News Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Trouble, strife and fallout from the agency model is blowing about in the Uk, watch this space!
Hachette e-books have been removed from the websites of Waterstone’s, W H Smith, Tesco and The Book Depository after the publisher said it would move to agency terms from today (20th September). But Amazon.co.uk is still selling Hachette titles on the Kindle, and appears to still be setting the prices.
via Hachette e-books removed from Waterstone’s, WHS, and Book Depository | theBookseller.com.
The wonderful people over at The Book Depository have rolled out a free ebook program. Kieron Smith, Managing Director of The Book Depository, said [in their press release]:
We wanted to give our customers a really wonderful present this Christmas. We’re continually working to increase the number of books that we have available on our website – 2.4 million at present, which is an unparalled number. Ebooks are much talked about at the moment but difficult for people to try, this gives people a chance to experiment, read something new and try ebooks all at no risk and free of charge.
We’ve not launched ebooks for sale as yet, but will do soon, this promotion is a great way for us to start talking to our customers about what they want from the format.
Quite wonderfully in my opinion, the program uses PDF. After all most people who don’t know anything about ebooks, know about PDF and feel confident in downloading them. I think the ebook program is nicely executed. It is smooth, fits into the rest of the site where you would expect it and offers something very interesting to readers.
I’m hoping this also drives print sales for The Book Depository’s Dodo Press. I’ve downloaded these two (1,2) for free, what will you get?
Lots to enjoy here,
Fidra Books posted a query on their blog today designed to help them figure out what books to order for their new store:
We’re resigned to the fact that we will open with a stock that has gaps and biases and it would be hard not to – this can be rectified in the next few months as we discover our customers’ tastes – but in an attempt to be more balanced we’d like you, our lovely blog-readers, to make some suggestions in the comments section below as to say, your top ten books that you’d love to see in a bookshop.
I loved the challenge this presented and so I went to work straight away, this is what came up with!
In an vain attempt to spread my bets and make sure I cover as many bases as possible I think this list may well get a bit rickety but here goes! In no order particularly:
1) AJP Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War (for the thinking general history reader, this will launch them on the path of a thousand questions)
2) Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Civilizations or Millennium (in terms of broad brush history of the epic kind, you’d be hard pressed to find better than these)
3) Mark Kurlansky, The Basque History of the World (a travelogue, a cookbook, a history and all wrapped in the neatest little package, sweet as)
4) Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination (clever science fiction for the fan who hasn’t yet mined the Science fiction cannon)
5) Stephanie Swainston, No Present Like Time (genre bending, adventure and all with an inconstant narrator, boy does Steph write fantasy well)
6) Ernest Hemmingway, The Old Man & The Sea (maybe its a guy thing, but this may well be one of the few fiction books I can stand to re-read)
7) Evelyn Waugh, Sword of Honour Trilogy (yes this cheating slightly because its a trilogy but lordy this is great writing)
8) Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome And the End of Civilization (this revives the full horror and the depth of the tragedy that was the end of the Roman empire, and moves the debate on from the hole I believe it fell into by trying to pass the collapse of Rome off as merely change rather than regression)
9) Robert Cooper, The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century (a nicely thought through book on the global political lanscape, not as radical as any of the Kagan books [Paradise and Power/The Return of History and the End of Dreams] but better for that)
10) William A. Draves & Julie Coates, Nine Shift (one of the most prescient and forward thinking books, I have ever read. Calmly and plainly explains where the world is going, why and looks at how it will change society utterly. A great book)
Two notes. Children’s books from picture books, to fiction, Food & Drink, Sport, Modern Fiction and quite a few other topics got a raw deal here but that’s the nature of top 10 lists. The last space took some time deciding.
I think it’s a good list!
I stumbled across the fact that Book Depository is using google’s preview function (I assume as part of Google Book’s recent API release: read the blog post and visit the API homepage).
It sits just under the front cover picture and jumps the reader down to the lower portion of the page when clicked. It is a nifty UI though I was a bit puzzled about how I could return to the top at first, and given that you would be hoping to make a sale and the buy button is at the top, this might be an issue!
All told it is a very nice feature. As if I needed a new reason to add books to either my to be read or to be bought piles. The best example I’ve stumbed on so far is this one for Bound Together: How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers, and Warriors Shaped Globalization.
On a reader/buyer level this is a sweet use of Google’s systems and data. Looking at it from a broader perspective I’d also find little to worry me. On the one hand no one else is really in a position to supply this kind of feature, expect maybe Amazon (who seem unlikely to do so lest they damage the competitive advantage that their Search inside feature offers them).
On the other hand, it seems like a cop out as a publisher to say that it’s okay for Google to be the only one in a position to do this! We must be letting ourselves down somewhere when we admit that!
Still, nice feature and executed well too.
By buying Abebooks which is cool but never really rocked my world, Amazon gets closer to the treasure trove that is LibraryThing.
Techcrunch, Techvibes and
What does it all mean?
I’ve been talking about LibraryThing since 2006 and finally realised what it was in 2007. If we are to believe Tim Spadling (and I would on this), it will mean very little for LibraryThing:
I congratulate Amazon on a shrewd acquisition. Abebooks is a great company, full of wonderful people. They have accomplished great things (link). I have no inside info, but I can foresee Amazon’s extraordinary technical infrastructure giving Abe a big lift.
Here’s the scoop:
* LibraryThing did not have any knowledge of or influence over this deal.
* The majority of LibraryThing is in my hands. Abebooks holds a minority of the shares, with certain notable but limited rights. This situation does not change when Amazon acquires Abebooks.
* Amazon will not get access to your data. The LibraryThing/Abebooks terms are specific. Abe gets only anonymized and aggregate data, like recommendations, and they can only use it on Abebooks sites (eg., Abebooks.com, Abebooks.de). Nothing has changed here.
* Abebooks customers won’t see much a difference. The name will survive and the Abebooks.com site will continue. Both employees and management will remain in Canada.
* LibraryThing remains LibraryThing. We will continue to uphold and advance LibraryThing values, including open data, strict privacy rules and support for libraries and independent bookstores.
For the online second hand book market though it’s a fairly big deal. Abebooks was pretty much Amazon’s only sizeable competitor outside of eBay and perhaps Alibris. With their acquisition, Amazon has built itself a nicely monopolistic position in that market.
My thoughts on this are good and bad. I’m happy to think that LibraryThing has an insulation (though I do think eventually the logic [AND VALUE] of LibraryThings development will result in LT joining Amazon) but I’m saddened that the second hand and rare book market is a little shallower.
Work weary after one day, strongly recommend this place if one is staying in the Loire.