Saturday, August 11, 2007

In Which Meg decides to take her custom to Dymocks

Books giant 'threatens publishers' over margins

Australian publishers are reeling after being told one of the country's biggest book store chains will not stock their books unless they pay thousands of dollars within weeks.

The publishers are calling it blackmail.

The book retailer - the long-established Angus & Robertson - says it cannot afford to stock books that do not generate enough profits.

Congratulations to the directors of Angus & Robertson. You've just succeeded in finally convincing me not to shop at your stores.

I've been tossing up the notion over the last few years, as I watched the space available to science fiction and fantasy books reducing and reducing, along with the diversity of authors. I've been watching as more and more shelf space is devoted to a few "well known" authors, rather than offering someone new a chance. It's scary when a shop's remnants tray has more diversity than the actual genre shelves, to be honest. But you're an Australian company, and I've stuck by you, more out of habit than out of actual liking.

However, this is the last bloody straw.

Why? Well, I'm an Australian who writes, and I'm well aware of the diverse number of Aussie publishers out there... but I'm also aware most of them are small publishers, and they wind up staggering financially from title to title. Australia is a small market. Congratulations, you're going to be pushing a lot of these more marginal publishers to the edge. You're also going to be making it harder (as a knock-on effect) for anyone who *isn't* an existing big-selling author to break into the market. Thanks ever so. Make my life harder, why don't you?

So, in return, I'm going to be going to Dymocks. Or Borders. Or W H Smiths. Or Elizabeth's second-hand. Or indeed to any one of a number of small science fiction specialist shops, wherein I can be reasonably certain of getting hold of books I'm interested in. What I *won't* be doing is heading into the nearest Angus & Robertson's, because with this particular tactic, you've managed to completely piss me off.

PS: There's now a link to this whole debate over at Making Light. Given both of the Nielsen-Haydens are known to be editors of some reknown in the US publishing scene (which is larger by far than the Australian one, and would therefore possibly be used to these tactics), it's interesting they point out this *isn't* standard industry practice.

Further PS: There's another article over at the Sydney Morning Herald about it: A&R Dumps Books