Book selling seems to be a rough sport down under. Dymocks, an Australian book seller, is pulling entirely out of New Zealand. Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch’s nephew Matt Handbury is selling his international press, Murdoch Books, to the larger publisher Allen and Unwin. This consolidation of publishers is something we should maybe start getting used to. On a related note…
Harper Collins has reached new agreements to sell its ebooks. And Amazon immediately slashes prices on two best sellers to $10. Contrary to popular belief, converting to a digital format doesn’t appear to erase the majority of the costs for publishing companies. It’s not surprising that this misconception exists, I was under it at one time, too. However, from all that I’ve read about it the actual creation of the physical book, the paper and cardboard and ink, makes up all of 20% of the price of the books we buy. The rest of those costs? Well, some go to the writer (hopefully). Some go to the publisher as profit (again, hopefully). A lot goes to people like editors, designers, marketers, etc. Actual people who work damn hard to make a book good and interesting. And, yes, covers matter. The physical design of a book matters. I still STILL covet my hardcover of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle because of the awesome Chris Ware designed cover. Murakami’s recent 1Q84 has an equally incredible cover by Chip Kidd. I scoop up Criterion Collection movies from used stores partly because the movies are great but also because they put a lot of effort in making awesome inserts to go with the movie. Okay, rant over. There’s just a good reason that ebooks shouldn’t head straight to Clearance Bin level prices – especially if ebooks become the primary mode of distribution. People deserve to be paid for their work.
Speaking of Chris Ware, he has a new object coming out. Building Stories. I haven’t seen it yet, obviously, but I’m a big fan and this thing is just neat looking. I’m still trying to decide if I have the money to throw down on it. I’m thinking of getting it and, if I do, a review will go up here fast. I just heart Chris Ware.
Finally, the short list for the Booker prize has been announced.
Tags: Allen and Unqwin, amazon, book stores, Books, Building Stories, Chip Kidd, Chris Ware, criterion collection, Dymocks, ebooks, harper collins, Literature, Matt Handbury, Murdoch Books, publishing, rupert murdoch, wind up bird