Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Down Under Blogger

I just came across a relatively new blogging effort by Peter Donoughue the ex-CEO of Wiley Australia. Peter and I met on a number of occasions and I know from those meetings his commentary is going to be blunt, on target and often funny. Not to put too much pressure on him but here are two selections from recent posts.

The following is his view of Angus and Robertson's implementation of the espresso book machine in their stores.

POD machines in every bookstore - Jason Epstein's vision as articulated in his memoirs of a decade ago - was always a dud of an idea. Investments in printing machines are for printers and possibly publishers, not for barely profitable, main street, high rent paying bookstores. The concept of print on demand is fine, and an everyday reality in the industry now, but it's a specialised business.

Ebook readers are the future - the Kindle, the Iliad, the Sony, and others to come. They'll be a dime a dozen in five or so years, like iPods and mobile phones are now. If you want your book printed buy the paper version or print it yourself.

ARW would be better advised to spend their limited capital on refurbishing their tired-looking stores and - here's a novel idea - buying much more stock of already printed books! That would really be good for business. Doing the basics well will never go out of fashion.
Peter is actually a supporter of POD but obviously not in a bookstore.

Secondly, Australia engages in a never ending discussion about parallel importation and here he is on that subject.
Here is the essential truth that the book trade proponents for continued protection need to get their heads around:

The 30/90 day provisions do not establish and have never established Australia as a rights territory. Australia is a natural rights territory because of its population size, distance, literacy and affluence. The provisions provide additional protection for a rights holder, but they do not establish the possibility of buying rights in the first place. Therefore their abolition will not destroy Australia as a rights territory. Their abolition will simply remove that additional level of protection which only serves to protect over-pricing and under-servicing. Publishers who price and service competitively have absolutely nothing to fear.

God, how often must this be said! To me it's so self-evident.

There is really no need for this paranoia in the trade, this awful, miserable 'we'll all be ruined' defensiveness. No wonder economists throw their hands up!

He has also just finished the same book I did, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and we both recommend it highly.

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