When I was blog hopping this morning, I came across this post at Smart Bitches about a storm that's erupted here in publishing/book distribution circles about having to pay for the right to have books sold at Angus & Robertson, which is one of the main bookstore chains here.
The post links back to the original item on the Sydney Morning Herald website, and reading through the comments was very interesting. I am not qualified to comment in any other way other than the fact that I am a reader. I therefore have no idea whether it is standard industry practice for smaller publishers and distributors to have to pay for the privilege of having their books sold in the bigger bookstores, or whether by boycotting A & R completely readers will possibly not only be harming the company, but also franchisees who sell under the A & R banner but buy stock independently etc. but the letter that was written by A & R does seem to be very overbearing to say the least!
What reading these articles did make me think about is my book buying habits! I can't remember the last time I bought a book from A & R. It must be a couple of years at least. The reason for that is that they never have very good stock. If you want to read anything that is isn't in the top 50, or has been in the top 50 relatively recently, then you can really forget about it! To be fair, I have to say the same of both Collins bookstores and Dymocks, which are the other two main Australian owned (or should I say started out as Australian owned chains). So, if I am not buying from those stores, where do I buy from? Another comment that came up regularly was about supporting Aussie authors, and this is something that I know I must be a bit better at, but I am trying..I really am!
To be honest, when I am looking to buy a book, I will generally end up going to Borders, or I order online, mainly from Book Depository or Boomerang Books. For romance, it will once again be either of those two, or more likely, romance specialists like Rendezvous or Ever After.
In the comments to the SMH article, there were lots of references to really good independent bookstores in Sydney, but I can only think of one here in Melbourne and that is Readings. The problem with Readings is that I don't go to the places where their stores are very regularly. I used to visit Readings in Carlton quite regularly, but that was when I lived only 15 minutes away from there, so it was nothing to wander down to Carlton on a Sunday morning for brunch, and book browsing. The bonus was that there is a Borders and another bookshop that sells books that the bookstores have sent back (can't think what that is called) across the road as well as good coffee and atmosphere!
The truth is that browsing in bookstores doesn't interest me all that much anymore! I know ... sacrilege! If I am going to a bookstore it is usually for something specific. One of the reasons for this is that if you go to the bookstore too regularly you just see the same things over and over again! Another reason for this is that for the most part I know that I will be able to get most books that I want from the library, and the other reason is that I get all my book recommendations from groups and blogs, and I am probably less likely to actually just pick up a book for no reason. Every now and again something catches my eye, but it doesn't happen all that often! I just can't afford to buy 10 books and only really enjoy one of them! I don't have money to spare, especially given that the interest rates just keep going up and up, and so do other expenses.
So, a question for any Melbourne based bloggers. Are there any bookstores that you all would recommend that are good for a visit?
For everyone else, have your book buying habits changed? Do you buy from independent booksellers, or only at the big chains?
And check out this link for a joke letter of demands from a book distributor!