The BIG GRAB for the Aussie bookselling market

Guest blogger: Angela Sunde (literacy support teacher, mother, reader)

The market control that Woolworths and Coles now hold over petrol pricing and groceries will soon be extended to include books. Together with Dymocks they have been lobbying for the lifting of the current restrictions on the parallel importation of books. They have pushed the ‘cheaper books’ slogan by calling themselves the Coalition for Cheaper Books and have managed to convince the Productivity Commission.

However, I and many others are not convinced.

By hiding behind this collective name, the ‘Coalition’ has duped Dymocks Booklover Loyalty members  into signing a petition. I have seen this petition and it guaranteed the consumer cheaper books. But there is no guarantee of cheaper books. These retail giants are never obliged to pass on any savings to the consumer. What makes anyone believe they’ll do it now?

In fact they have a history of not doing so. In their submission to the Productivity Commission, Penguin Australia stated:

‘At the moment two of our biggest chains are selling many titles significantly above RRP’.  Why are they getting away with this?

According to industry sources Kmart and Target (Coles Group) demand up to 70% discount on the RRP from the publisher. (By comparison the author receives less than 10% of the RRP.) Then the mega-retailers go and add a few dollars extra over the RRP. Do you really think they’re all about delivering cheaper books? I don’t think so.

A side effect from this will be all the small businesses that will go under: the independent booksellers, the smaller publishing houses, and their distributors. Sound familiar?

Of much greater concern will the loss of our ‘Australian Voice’ and the impact this will have on our children’s literacy.

Australian children need books that reflect their world, their culture and history.

5 thoughts on “The BIG GRAB for the Aussie bookselling market

  1. Good for you, Angela, Dee and Sally. I won’t ever buy books in Dymocks on principal. I usually buy my books independent bookstores. I purchase many because I love books and I’m an unpublished children’s author who loves to read and learn. (It looks like that dream is on its way down the gurgler now.) I’ve sacrificed and worked non stop for many hours every day for the past three years, to complete one of my children’s books. I’m still working on the other ten. What now? My books are about Australian children, living in Rural Australia and using Australian slang.

    If Alan Fels has his way, I’ll never get published in Australia anyway. What is his motive? That’s what I would like to know because none of it makes any sense. Books are not that expensive at the moment if you compare them to video games, toys and going to the movies. A book lasts forever, but if you go to the movies or Fun Park you only have that pleasure for a few hours.

    Who will take the blame when our Australian authors will be out of work and not able to pay their bills? They only get a pittance as it is.

    Have you ever written a book Mr. Alan Fels?

    Alan Fels should get a life and leave well enough alone. If the book industry isn’t broken at the moment DON’T FIX IT.

    I hope the Hon Mr Rudd reads our emails. (Or he will have a stop in front of his name in all future books.)

    They’ll be printing our newspapers overseas next. Some Australians have been fighting for a republic for years, well why? It looks like our books will be taken over by the UK and America. Why don’t we just give away everything, after all they have our vegemite? Now they want our writerly souls too. Good onya Mr dot Fels and your mates.

  2. We have a local market that is already used to paying $22 (at least) for a book. So why would any business who suddenly finds that their supply costs have decreased actually pass on a discount? They will continue to charge what the market is used to paying and pocket the difference.

  3. I think I’ll be shopping at Angus and Robertson. They’re $10 below Dymocks. How can Dymocks justify that pricing and then call themselves ‘The Coalition for Cheaper Books’?
    BTW, I had my letter to the editor published today, Saturday in the Courier Mail. It was the central headliner with a photo. Also sent 3 letters off on Friday and 7 emails.
    How is everyone else doing?

  4. Some interesting observations Angela. I discovered some interesting facts myself about the Dymocks book prices featured in the Australian on Wednesday. Here are the comparisons:


    Finger Lickin Fifteen $21.50
    Breath $14.10
    Breaking Dawn $16.25
    The Scarecrow $22.90


    Finger Lickin Fifteen $22.99
    Breath $20.99
    Breaking Dawn NOT AVAILABLE
    The Scarecrow $22.99


    Finger Lickin Fifteen $32.99
    Breath $24.95
    Breaking Dawn $29.99
    The Scarecrow $32.99

    So, who’s really ripping off the Australian book buyer?


  5. Well said, Angela. As well as fighting against the scrapping of PIRs, bookbuyers should be voting with their feet (and wallets) right now. Before you buy a book, look at the rrp. Then refuse to pay more than rrp for the book. It’s worth noting that Dymocks is one of the biggest culprits – they regularly sell books at a dollar or two ABOVE rrp, increasing their profit immensely. Who gets this extra money? Dymocks does. Not the publisher. Not the author. And yet they dare to belong to a group calling itself the ‘Coalition for Cheaper Books’????

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