New Zealand Booksellers chair Hamish Wright has taken a shot at Random House Australia for selling Dan Brown’s new book The Lost Symbol directly from its website to Australian and New Zealand buyers.
It’s a friendly shot, with a barb, as you’ll see from the full press release below. But, certainly as far as New Zealand is concerned, it points to a further challenge for all of us, namely that Random House New Zealand doesn’t have a local ebookstore that they could supply, whether they wanted to or not.
I notice that ebooks.com, a Perth, Australia-based ebookstore, has The Lost Symbol for sale at US$9.95 but sales are restricted to the following markets:
American Samoa, Bouvet Island, Canada, Faroe Islands, Guam, Heard and McDonald Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Reunion, United States, United States Minor Outlying Islands, Virgin Islands U.S.
While I don’t have a problem with publishers selling directly from their websites, I do think it has to be in conjunction with fair, concurrent availability to online booksellers.
Random House New Zealand is excused at this point because it doesn’t yet have a New Zealand ebookseller operating (we hope that changes soon). But Australia certainly does and Random’s failure to supply, eg, eBooks.com or Dymocks Australia’s ebookstore, isn’t acceptable.
These moves will come back to bite publishers if they weaken the independent online bookseller channel with this sort of behaviour. Random House Australia missed a great opportunity to help develop the retail sector with this high profile ebook.
I also have no problem with territorial rights, by the way, as this recent stoush over at Teleread (and here) indicates. I think they are essential to development of a healthy mix of local and global ebook retailing. But I can see that this action by Random House will have a lot of people pointing the finger at territorial rights as the culprit here. They’re not. It’s certainly a channel issue, though.
Here’s the full text of the Booksellers New Zealand press release:
Traditional booksellers unfazed by arrival of e-books in New Zealand Market.
The direct sale to consumers, in e-book format, of the latest Dan Brown blockbuster, The Lost Symbol and other Dan Brown titles by publisher Random House will be “taken in its stride” by the traditional book industry, according to Booksellers NZ Chairman, Hamish Wright.
“This is an expected event with the whole business of digitisation of book publishing and selling providing as many new opportunities as threats for booksellers,” said Mr Wright owner/operator of the independent Wrights Bookshop in Cambridge.
He was commenting on the latest move by Random House Australia to make available three of the Dan Brown’s books, including the latest, online in the form of an e-book in the New Zealand and Australian markets.
“Disintermediation of the supply chain has been around for a while in other industries, such as banking and the movie industry, but it has not meant the much vaunted death of banks or cinemas, as it won’t for bookshops.
“There is a great deal more in the selling and buying of books than simply making them available; it’s a cultural and intellectual experience where relationships and understanding between booksellers and readers are developed over time and are highly valued within local communities,” said Mr Wright.
“Digitisation in its wider form than just e-books or e-readers, offers much for booksellers and their customers, especially by overcoming supply problems for readers wanting to buy backlist copies or out-of-print books.
“As on-demand publishing facilities develop further in the Australian and New Zealand region, booksellers will be able to provide quicker turnaround for books, where sometimes they have to wait for weeks while publishers decide whether or not to reprint. We would also hope that publishers will be willing in future to make e-books available for sale through booksellers. ” said Mr Wright.
For further information contact Hamish Wright, Chairman, Booksellers NZ: 027 621 2062.