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The Forum > Article Comments > Wule Bwitannia > Comments

Wule Bwitannia : Comments

By Bernice Balconey, published 30/1/2009

Australian publishers want to maintain the status quo protecting Australian publications from competition. But what about the consumer?

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"Whoever is making money out of books in Australia, it isnít your local bookshop, and it doesnít seem to be the authors either."

Amen to that last bit! With my last book - which took me three years of hard research and solid slog and which sold nearly all of its 4000 print run, I got 10%, i.e. $2.95 a book (a standard Australian contract). And I spent days on the road at book launches, bookshop signings, speaking at book clubs and arranging my own publicity because the publisher said they had spent their publicity budget.

I was reliably informed that the bookseller got 40% i.e. $11.80 a book; and someone else got the rest i.e. $14.75.

I have no interest in preserving the 'rights' of so-called local publishers. Who or what are we protecting? Within weeks of my last book getting published I was curtly told the local company had sold out to an international corporation and that there would be no second edition or reprint. My next book will be offered overseas because, although a labour of love for me, I have to make a living and I may as well try for a better deal.
Posted by Spikey, Friday, 30 January 2009 11:43:00 AM
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I find it pretty amazing that intelligent peopl think that
a) all publishers are multinationals and
b) books don't cost anything to produce

a) There are many small and independent publishers in Australia who will find it even harder to make ends meet if the parallel importation comes in. Cheap mass market books will take up even more space in most bookshops (there will thankfully be some exceptions). Not only that, but if the books of Australian authors are imported cheaply, they will not receive royalties. So authors and independent publishers will be far worse off.
b) Spikey, the $14.75 had to cover: editing, typesetting, cover design, printing, postage, publicity, electricity, paper, bank charges, salaries, and a host of other small expenses (I've only listed the major ones). Perhaps also: rent, bank interest and more. After all of that the publisher gets what is left. Not much when you are a small independent. (And I'm assuming your calculations are correct).
Posted by Susan Hawthorne, Friday, 30 January 2009 12:16:17 PM
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Well Spikey.... for once I am intirely in agreement with you!

My own dad did 2 books.. and he also got a similar amount.

What's ur book.. I'd be interested in the subject matter ?

Perhaps if ur worried about privacy...you can just mention the subject matter?

But this issue highlights the whole area of 'perception and private interest'.....

Examinator started a thread seeking to control the way information is presented here..and Foxy spoke about 'hate filled' rants..

I'ts no different from a Publisher claiming that those who are against protecting them are 'hate filled' against them.
That's a silly idea.
You (Spikey) could also learn from that. How would it be if I accused you of a 'hate filled anti publisher rant' :).... hmmmmm?

No no no... there is an issue and it must be discussed and explored and disagreeing about it does not imply that one side is filled with 'hate'...

I know this is a difficult experience for our leftoids.. i.e.. to recognize that those who don't share their view are not vile hate filled maniacs... but in fact quite reasonable people with a legitimate argument.

SUSAN... your explaination could be in fact a declaration of 'opportunity' ? Why not Aussie authors get together with an overseas publisher (a cheapy) and negotiate a BIGger slice of the cake for the author..and still offer the finished product much cheaper than the greedy local publisher, to the consumer?

What the HECK do 'bookshops' 'do' to deserve around 45% of the cake?
They put it on their shelves..they sell it in 2 minutes..click click.. eftpos.. voila..done.
Posted by BOAZ_David, Friday, 30 January 2009 2:33:01 PM
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BOAZ - the problem is that in the USA authors do worse on standard royalty rates than in Australia. So your suggestion is a no go. This applies across the industry and is especially so with the large international publishers and university presses.
Re booksellers - talk to one and ask them if what you say is realistic. Not so far as I know. Most books do not have that sales pattern (Harry Potter is an exception not the standard by which all books can be measured).
Posted by Susan Hawthorne, Friday, 30 January 2009 3:04:29 PM
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We have a book out with a major global publisher and are very disappointed with their performance, which is barely competent. We have an earlier book which we sold successfully through our website for a while and then transferred to Lulu - www.lulu.com. It's not making us a fortune but we get to set our own sale price and keep a decent percentage. Highly recommended to anyone who is getting the usual runaround from Australian (or other) publishers.
Posted by Jon J, Friday, 30 January 2009 3:16:10 PM
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When I moved to Australia many years ago I came as a rabid reader much used to the Barns and Noble super stores of New York City.

An early friend here was a wholesale book seller. She could not explain the vast difference between book prices here and in New York. While I could understand the lack of titles on the shelves being due to smaller shops and smaller demand I also wondered if it was not also due to the very high prices.

Very seldom do I buy books from Aussie vendors these days. The music books I buy at Amazon for US$6.00 sell here for close to Aus$30. I can find all the titles I desire (with a 1-2 week delivery) at Amazon while the local bookseller must order it in then mail it on to me with frequently a longer delivery time.

Why would I buy a book here when it is cheaper and frequently as fast to get it from Amazon.com?
Posted by Bruce, Friday, 30 January 2009 8:02:37 PM
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