Today I just read a post by Chris Flynn, former editor of Torpedo and fiction editor at Australian Book Review.
It was written a few weeks ago but by some grace of Twitter, it was being Tweeted around and I read it.
He compares buying books online/independents/chains, looks at margins and costs, and does some pretty thorough research about savings a regular consumer can make while shopping at all three.
It’s a really compelling article and if you’re at all interested in book buying, I highly recommend it.
I found myself agreeing with almost everything Flynn wrote.
That you’d be stupid to visit Borders over Readings (he used Readings as an example of an independent bookstore) as their prices are much more expensive. (Something I’m sure I’ve ranted about in the past!).
It is way cheaper, most of the time, to buy from The Book Depository.
When I used to work at the bookstore, about 99% of my wage went straight back into it. My boss was laughing; he might as well just paid me in books.
But then I discovered The Book Depository and suddenly I hardly looked back.
On average, I’d wager a bet that The Book Depository is about half price than what you’d find in Australian shops. (Well, for most YA’s anyway, maybe adult books are most expensive. Although I did once get a pictorial Chanel book for a present for $15 – all the Aussie stores were $60+. It felt awesome!).
That being said, as Flynn mentioned, some books aren’t available on there (due to Australian-only editions etc) but most are.
I’d get the books delivered to the bookstore as that’s where I was during business hours, and god knows what my boss thought when those little white packages turned up, day after day, with my shrieking in joy with every new book.
Let’s get something straight: I love independents. Borders has its place, sure, but give me an independent any day. (Or, what I like using Borders for: their range. Given the sheer size of their store they carry a much larger selection. So I usually go in, check it out, write down titles I want and buy them later. Much cheaper (And we’re not even talking about the online savings here; Borders typically mark-up their books 10-20% (As do Angus and Robertson))).
But since I’ve discovered The Book Depository I rarely buy in bookstores anymore.
For me, I’d love to support my local independents. Who wouldn’t? Who doesn’t love browsing shelves, finding that special book, buying it, and carrying it all the way home?
For me, at this point in my life, it’s purely a financial transaction: not wanting to play the poor student card here, but why would I buy X book at my local independent for $19.95 when I can pay $11 on The Book Depository? (True story. All those CHERUB books I recently purchased? Just over $11 each, while RRP in Australia is something around $20).
So while it’s not fun for me to wait while they get shipped, I’d rather wait than part with the extra cash. Especially since any cash I save means I can buy more books!
Recently, I said I was going crazy over the Girlfriend Fiction Series. Which I am.
Admittedly, I did check out The Book Depository but – proving Flynn’s theory – they didn’t have them.
Alas, since I started going crazy it was around Christmas time meaning lots of sales – so, as I mentioned, I haven’t paid full price for one of them.
Just yesterday I got one half price at Big W.
For those titles, I scoured Target, K-Mart, Big W, Angus and Robertson, Dymocks, Collins, Borders – every possible book-buying-store to try and find them.
Obviously, Borders had the widest selection and out of the final five books I’m yet to buy they had most – but at a tidy profit to them at (from memory) about $18 or so each.
I also have two people out looking for them (my grandma and one of my close friends). I’ve given them strict instructions not to pay over $10 (RRP $14.95) and I’m certain I’ll be able to find the remaining five that way.
Again, it’s not about me being a tight-ass (well, okay, a little bit may be) but: 20 books in the series at $14.95 a pop = $299.
Even if I paid the top price I want, $10, for each, that’s $200 – a savings of $99. But as I said, some I paid $1.88 for, yesterday’s one was $7.50, etc.
Saying that, if I’m out, having a good time, if the bookstore has a nice vibe (like The Little Bookroom does for instance) then yeah, sometimes I will pay RRP for a book.
I do like to support the independents.
But mostly, for me, it’s a money thing.
And online simply provides cheaper books.