I love reading. I can happily get sidetracked in a bookstore for hours on end, but I don’t buy half the number of books that I would like to buy because of the high price of books in Australia. I always knew that books were more expensive in Australia, but a recent trip to the US really brought home how expensive books are here.
Paperback: US $6-$8 AUS $15- $25
Trade Paperback: US $15 AUS $25-$35
Hardcover: US $30-$35 AUS $40+
For the price of one paperback here in Australia, I can buy 2-3 books in the US.
The reason behind the high price of books in Australia is to protect local writers and thus protect “Australian culture”. I am all for local writers getting the opportunity to get their work published, but the down and dirty truth is that I won’t be buying their books. I only fork out $35 for a book by an author I really love and even then I usually wait until the book has been out for a while and has dropped down to about $25. I might see a book by a local author that sounds really interesting, but I won’t pay $35 for it. I might buy the book if I see it in a second hand bookstore where I can buy books for about $8, but the local author won’t see a cent from that sale.
I wonder how many other Australians are out there that are like me and are not buying the number of books they might buy if they were $5-$10 cheaper. Bob Carr (former Premier of NSW) has written a really good editorial on this subject and I think this the one time I have actually wholeheartedly agreed with him. Cheaper books in Australia would increase book sales thus bringing the same but most probably more money into the publishing industry. Until they reduce the prices of books in Australia, I will be buying most of my books at second hand bookstores or online from overseas retailers meaning that very little of my book buying money will go to Australian publishers. Sorry guys but in my eyes you either become competitive or you die out.