Page 60 - Print21 July-Aug 2018 Magazine
P. 60

Doris Prodanovic
Indie envy and online frenemies
Add the independent book publishing industry to the list of reasons why we’re known as ‘The Lucky Country’. Doris Prodanovic checks in on Australia’s indie book publishers and sellers, as we enter the new Amazon chapter.
or flight mode, Australia’s Angus
& Robertson became online only, joined forces with Bookworld in 2015 and are today under Booktopia’s umbrella. Has an Orwellian self- checkout world come to life?
“We can’t dictate to the customer,” says Curry, “people shop 24 hours a day.” She assures that online retailers are not the enemy and give publishers another gateway in promoting titles and increasing sales. “I love the new online world and we’ve seen a great democracy with Amazon because the online environment gives our authors the same platform and space as those from bigger publishing houses or names.”
As Amazon firms up fulfilment centres in Melbourne and Sydney, it seems the competition in the book sphere isn’t as threatening as initially feared. John Walsh, manager at independent book store, Gleebooks, says we’ll have to wait and see if Amazon’s offer in the country will change now that an ‘access denied’ sign hangs on the US and UK sites for Australians.
“My speculation is that restricting their range will make Amazon’s offer less attractive as they will be sourcing local editions, at local prices, from local distributors and publishers,” he says. “The industry as a whole has reacted
to change; the supply channels have expanded to include ‘online’ which has certainly changed buyers habits.”
Navigating the Amazon jungle
Do we want another dehumanised transaction in our lives? Sure, Amazon can learn about my book habits through searches or clicks or buys, or tie it nicely into a neat algorithm, but does it know the story why I’m buying or who it’s for? Walsh says indies engage and reflect their community and, for as long as overheads are in control, there’s no reason for small and medium bookstores not to succeed well into the future.
“Most small and independent publishers are run on passion for what they are doing and the same can be said for bookshops, like Gleebooks,” he says. “Shop owners are often book people first and business people second...but we do what we do because we love it.”
And who wouldn’t be envious of that? 21
Girt by sea and a double digit’s flight away from most of the world, being Australian means we’ll wait a little longer, we’ll
pay a little more and we’ll expect
a little extra quality when creative works, such as books, arrive in the country. Though some of these
factors have improved in recent years, readers are skipping the brick-and- mortar chain store to go direct online more than ever. And then there’s the friendly neighbourhood bookstore
a few streets down. How’s it doing amongst all this? Well, its performance is of international acclaim.
“The US and the UK are envious of us,” says Ventura Press managing director and publisher, Jane Curry.
“Small and independent publishers are run on passion for what they are doing...”
“We have such strong independent booksellers and it’s the backbone of the industry.”
For more than 25 years, Jane Curry has seen the book publishing industry shape and shift in every form imaginable. Since 2002, Curry’s own Ventura Press has earned its title as one of leading independent publishing houses in Sydney, with its award-winning authors and novels as well as two imprints: Impact Press and Peter Bishop Books.
She emphasises the importance of the publisher-bookseller relationship as one which is strong, yet customised to every need, “There’s this one side that’s really boutique publishing and boutique selling, and the other side that’s massive, with celebrity books and Harry
Potters to sell, which need such large quantities to be supplied,” she says. “Independent publishers and sellers have much more confidence in the market with what we can publish and sell now, because it’s very hard to stay in the middle ground. Dymocks are doing well but most chains [in Australia] are gone and I think the US and UK would want to emulate this model.”
Border control
It’s been seven years since book chain Borders closed its stores
across Australia, a time where, “the king is dead, long live the king” was chanted for print works everywhere. Fingers were pointed at e-books, digital readers, Apple and Amazon for the demise of bookstores. In fight
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