Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Chains Tighten

As though further proof were needed as to the parlous state of our local publishing industry, tucked away on page 3 of the SMH yesterday was a report that Angus&Robertson, who control 20% of the local market, has written to a host of small publishers and distributors (such as Giramondo and Black Inc.) demanding an upfront payment of anywhere between $2500 and $20000 by August 17 or they will "have no option but to remove you from our list of authorised suppliers." Needless to say the targetted companies do not have this sort of money, but nor can they afford to be denied access to A&R's 182 bookstores. This is truly a red letter day for Australian publishing.

As a writer with a small but loyal following, I can attest to the great spirit that abounds out there among independent booksellers. Over the years stores such as Better Read than Dead and Gleebooks, not to mention the saintly Kris Hemmensley of Collected Works in Melbourne, have been tireless in their support of writers such as myself. I feel for them right now as they continue to battle against the enormous cut-price chains and can only suggest to all you book lovers out there to walk into your local independent bookstore today and not only voice your disgust for the corporate bullies but maybe even BUY A BOOK! Without the independents, publishers like Black Inc. and Giramondo will probably be faced with extinction, and that would be a tragedy of collosal proportions for not only Australian letters but for any prospect of an informed and reasoning polis. But please, something else besides Harry Potter. Contrary to popular belief, Potter-mania is actually driving up the corporate obsession with margins, not filtering the money down to the grass roots.

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