Occident Prone

Welcome to Australia’s wild West

Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Forget the flat white, get yourself a good book

Posted by occidentprone on July 28, 2008

Yesterday I popped down to Cino to Go in Mt Lawley to get a feel for what Stephen Smith might have been thinking when he took the US Secretary of State there on Friday, and to just be where she had been.

This is by no means a plug for Cino because there are heaps of great coffee spots in Mt Lawley.  Though I found they’re sprinkling real chocolate on the top of the cappuccino so maybe that’s why our Foreign Affairs Minister finds it appealing.

But if he really wanted to make an impression he should have taken Dr Rice – chaperoned by his parents of course – to Planet Books. She has said she sends friends to do her clothes shopping but bookshop browsing is not something you can delegate. Even the endlessness of Amazon is no match for the smell, see, feel, hear assault you get by craning your neck through all the shelves and flicking through the ones that catch your eye.

Planet, along with the smaller Oxford Books in Leederville, are bastions for the slow browsers. I have easily spent an hour just looking – and not even buying in the end but still feeling as though it was an afternoon well spent.

I can see Condi, brow furrowed before the bank of political and current affairs books, pondering the anti-Bush and anti-US themes, and suddenly having a lightbulb moment – PING – Time for the US to get out of Iraq, time to use this international influence for good, to not just bide time by Bush’s side, to recognise America is no longer the prestigious hemisphere it once was, that its “brand” is tarnished.

Maybe Smith could point her towards a John Pilger rant or the Latham Diaries (any of those still around?) for a bit of perspective.

Or the talented pianist could just buy a biography on Brahms. Either way Rice could see there’s a lot going on outside Planet Bush.

Posted in Australian politics, Diversions, Foreign affairs, Perth, Politics | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Books review

Posted by occidentprone on July 5, 2008

A change is in the wind concerning the concerning price of books.

The outrageous price of books in Australia is a source of inner conflict for me – on the one hand the intellectual property of authors should be protected, their work and ideas rewarded and their income should be boosted.

But the cost of nourishing my intellect is hampered by the skyhigh prices we pay, especially for non-fiction and specialty books. Unless you go to Amazon – but that’s not good for local booksellers is it?

The Australian says: 

The Productivity Commission will be asked to review copyright laws that prevent booksellers from importing titles that are also published in Australia after federal and state governments agreed on Thursday that it was a priority area for competition reform.

Books produced in the US and Britain tend to be cheaper, but at present Australian stores are forced to sell only the more expensive locally published version of the same title.

The review came as a shock yesterday to the publishing industry, which warned that foreign publishers would dump cheap editions in the local market and undermine the burgeoning demand for domestic authors.

But the move was welcomed as overdue by booksellers and the former head of the Productivity Commission, Allan Fels, who conducted reviews of the pricing of books and CDs during his tenure.

The Copyright Act gives the Australian copyright owner control over who is allowed to import books for sale subject to the 30-day rule.

Under this rule, the local publisher must supply a book within 30 days of its publication overseas otherwise booksellers can import directly from the foreign publisher.

The Australian  goes on to outline the price differences between here and Britain and The States.

A 2001 survey by the ACCC found Australian prices for bestselling paperback fiction were about 44 per cent higher than the US and 9 per cent higher than Britain.

For the category of all bestsellers, Australian prices were 18per cent higher than in the US and 0.2 per cent higher than in Britain, while technical and professional books were 23 per cent cheaper in the US and 18 per cent cheaper in Britain.

You have to feel for Australian booksellers and publishers – except where they are ripping off the artists at the coalface.

Remember last year the kerfuffle about Angus & Robertson Booksellers demanding payment from smaller publishers to stock their not-so-profitable books?  (Read more at Wikipedia and on blogs Articulate and Pigs Will Fly.)

And this year technical writers complained about being done over by overseas publishers.

So what is the right path for the consumer who wants to pay a fair price for books out of respect for authors but doesn’t want to be paying much more than people overseas?

Share your thoughts.

Posted in Australian politics, Diversions, Politics | Tagged: | 1 Comment »