A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Friday, February 18, 2011

For the Love of Books

I note that the parent company of Borders and Angus & Robertson has been placed in the hands of admininstrators.
There's been a lot of speculation about why these major book retailers might now be fighting for their survival. Online shopping, high prices, government imposed tarriffs, poor business practice, softening in retailing spending have all been cited as reasons for Redgroup's misfortunes.

Credit: Herald Sun

Some of you know that I read a lot and buy books. I use the library too and if I like a book enough, I may even get it.
To an avid reader like me, I feel that I can get more bang for my buck if I go online. So I have... at various times sourced books at Amazon and more regularly at The Book Depository. I have bought things at Borders when they send out coupons or special offers through their loyalty programme, as I did just before Christmas. But those sales would have to be something special... comparable to what I get online... to get me excited.

Borders, I really liked. Big comfy armchairs and quiet reading areas. And a very decent range of cookbooks to peruse and drool over. (Nah... I would never buy cookbooks at Borders -- ridiculously expensive) Fiction is okay but to pay over $20 for a mass market paperback is patently absurd. May as well borrow them from the library. Put desired book on hold and pay a piddly 80cents for the privilege. My impression is that they have a good range of children's books but by golly, $18 bucks for a 10 page picture book is a bit steep!

Non-fiction, on the other hand, is another story. Aside from Heaven and Earth by Ian Plimer, they don't ever seem to have anything I'm looking for and some of the books I'm looking for are New York Times bestsellers!
Gah... I go online and voila... it's available... somewhere and it's likely to come to arrive at my doorstep in 7-14 days.

When I was working in Brisbane CBD, I used to go to a place called Pulp Fiction. It was a specialist crime, science fiction, fantasy book seller. These guys really knew their stuff. I even found some fairly obscure crime books there. It was refreshing to natter with people who love books, who knew their products and were happy to waste fifteen minutes yapping aimlessly to you about books. I haven't been there in a long while but apparently they're still going. I suspect they must be doing something right.

I don't know if anybody else buys books these days. Sometimes I think it's just me. When was the last time some one asked you, "Read a good book lately?" To me, I read books for survival... to quote Hercule Poirot... "to exercise the grey cells". I'm none too keen for the brain to turn to mush which it is in danger of doing so when you hang around kiddies all day. The library is a good resource for fiction but when I read theology, parenting and history books I have an enormous itch to underline and leave chicken scratches all over the place.


  1. As an author, and knowing the cost of production of books, $18 is reasonable when you know the painful hours spent to write, re-write and then find a publisher who'll take it on. hours and hours and hours .. yes sometimes years.
    I came to a personal revelation last a couple of years ago that - I do love books - I read all the time - but if we don't buy some - at full price - sometimes - when do the authors get paid?
    Yes the library is great and there is no way I could afford to purchase all the books I read, but I do choose to purchase several books a year. I give books as gifts, I buy books just to support authors I know, and I buy books just to support the industry.
    After reading your post, I had comment and fly the author flag. Please support the writers of the world - purchase direct from the author, from independant bookstores or order specific books for your library to purchase.
    Perhaps its time for me to post a blog on the costs of producing a book.

  2. Sure, yeah, Michelle... do that.

    But personally I prefer to leave pricing to the free market. If people like, for eg. your book, they'll buy it and they'll tell their friends about it and they might even buy a few copies to give away. It seems to me that goverment regulation only adds to the whole book selling problem.

    I'm with you about buying books definitely. I buy books for my children, my nieces and nephews etc. But my experience is that it's hard getting mummies with small children to read.


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