Thursday, August 9, 2012

A frustrated book buyer

A couple of days ago, Bernadette over at Reactions to Reading posted her reads of the month.  Two of the books took my fancy: Black Wattle Creek by Geoffrey McGeachin and Paving the New Road by Sulari Gentill.  Neither are available on or, nor Book Depository.  I've previously tried to buy McGeachin's other Charlie Berlin book, The Digger's Rest Hotel.  It's available as an audio book but not a paper or e-book.  I've twice had pre-orders for White Dog by Peter Temple cancelled because of delays in being published in the UK, despite the fact that it was published in 2004 in Australia (it is now available at hardback price).  I've also tried to buy Kel Robertson's second novel, Smoke and Mirrors, a winner of Ned Kelly prize for crime fiction in 2009, but to no avail.  I've read the first book in the series because a friend in Australia sent me a copy.

It's pretty difficult to be Fair Dinkum about Australian crime fiction when it is almost impossible to buy the crime novels published there.  In an age of globalised cultural production, Internet buying and e-books, I find it very odd that English language books are still being limited to geographical regions.  I can read reviews of books, but I can't buy them.  It's a practise that seems limited to fiction.  I think all of my academic books can be bought anywhere on the planet relatively easily.  It is very frustrating to potential readers and I suspect also authors who's audience is being deliberately limited.  I know that this is to do with the selling of rights and the launching/marketing of books in different locales, but it seems to me that there should be an opportunity for readers to purchase books online that might not yet be available in bookstores.  If nothing else it might create a buzz about a book, including reviews, and actually aid the selling of rights in different regions.  Especially as so many of the books I'm interested in will probably never be published in other regions.

Anyway, what I want to know is this: can somebody recommend an Australian online bookstore that will post the books to Ireland at a reasonable rate?  Or perhaps an alternative way to buy Australian crime fiction that is presently not available in the Europe or North America?  I know books in Australia are relatively expensive, but I can live with that.  I just want to be able to read the books that I want to read.


Bernadette said...

So frustrating Rob. The only shops I know of that ship OS are and but it won't be cheap - you'll come up against local pricing ($30AUS or thereabouts for the book) and our exorbitant postage prices

Andrew Nette said...

Interesting post, Rob.

My personal opinion is that mainstream Australian publishers don't get e-books. They don't view them as important to getting an author out there, and when they do release them the prices are so high as to make them almost completely unattractive. I have a crime writer friend who is published in Australia. Her publisher recently released her third book as an e-book for $15 dollars.

Given our size and the scale of our economy, there's no easy decisions or magic for Australian publishers. That said, some of them are living in denial about where things are going.

By the way, nice blog. I'll have to check it out more often.


Andrew Nette

Rob Kitchin said...

Tried to create a booktopia account. It only ships to 20 countries. Ireland is not one of them, though the UK is. You can't edit the line as it's a drop down menu. So that option is out.

Rob Kitchin said...

Have checked out Boomerang Books as well. Paving the New Road is not listed as being available. Still, I started the process of buying The Digger's Rest Hotel and Few Right Thinking Men (the first Gentill book in series). Total cost of books AUS$50.35 + $40 postage. That's 77 euro (or 61 GBP or 95 USD) for two paperbacks (which I'd typically pay 16-18 euro for in Ireland. So four times as expensive). I'll have a think about this. Perhaps if they were by my favourite author and this was the only way of accessing them I'd just outlay the money, but I've not read either author before and this would be a blind buy. It's a relatively expensive gamble. I'd like to think there's a cheaper way of reading these books, but maybe there isn't?

Karen (Euro Crime) said...

I've occasionally used: They seem to ship to Ireland at a reasonable rate (though I've not gone through the whole checkout process). They've got Few Right Thinking Men but not The Digger's Rest Hotel.

Mack said...

I feel your pain Rob. I recently had an animated discussion with Book Depository on why they won't ship certain books to the US but Amazon UK will. they blamed the publisher but but had no answer when I said that Amazon UK doesn't seem to have a problem.

For books published in South Africa, I purchased an ereader compatible with DRM and download th eavailable ebooks from

Rob Kitchin said...

Karen, Bookworm actually have both books (need to search by author not title), but the postage is even more expensive than Boomerang at $AUS 69 (which is 59 euro, 47 GBP, 73 USD). 59 euro to post two paperback books by ordinary airmail? Can that be right?

Overall $AUS50 for two ordinary, general release paperback books, $AUS 69 for postage = $AUS 119 (or 102 euro, 80 GBP, 126 USD). Hmmmm. There's something really messed up with book prices/postage in Oz.

As much as I'd like to read and review Aussie crime fiction, maybe I'll give it a pass unless rights sold and published elsewhere. I can live with paying a reasonable sum for books (and I buy between 100-130 new books a year between fiction and academic) but these prices seem well out of whack with international norms.

Maxine Clarke said...

Not that it is any consolation, but it is just as bad in England. I have regularly tried to obtain books via Bernadette's reviews, using sites that either she or others recommend when Amazon cannot help because it has to be bound by rights restrictions, but none of these work, sometimes because of excessive postal charges and sometimes they just won't ship (probably the rights restrictions). These restrictions apply as much to e-books as print books, so even if Australian publishers do ever "get" e-books, it does not mean they'd sell world rights any quicker than they currently don't do for print books.

I think it is the same in NZ. Author Vanda Symon once wrote that her backlist was available via a website, when I tried to get one I could not. I think I mentioned it to her and she was not even aware of such a restriction, and said she'd try to do something about it. So whatever is going on, is probably not what the books' authors want, even if they know about it.

kathy d. said...

I tried to order Indridason's Outrage in the winter from Book Depository. I didn't hear anything and then I got a note saying that the publisher asked them not to sell books to anyone in the U.S.(!)
That edition was published by Random House Canada. Huh?
I live an eight hours' drive from the Canadian Border.
Why couldn't anyone in the U.S. buy a book from this Canadian company from England?
I searched until I found it at Alibris and I ordered it at a reasonable price and got it within days.
It's all mind-boggling.

One thing I thought of was wondering if someone in Britain could buy some books for you there -- if there were any booksellers nearby -- and then send them to you. But I realize they have problems getting books from Oz, too.

I don't get it. It seems to me that Australian booksellers would want to have international readers. But that's just my opinion.