Saturday, December 27, 2008

net pricing? I don't think so.

Where would we be without RRP? Here's an extract from an emailed ad from a prominent bookselling chain:

* Offer ends 31st December 2008. Percentage off Publisher's Recommended Retail price. Excludes already reduced titles, educational text books, DVDs, CDs, videos, online digital and audible products, online purchases, gift cards and special orders.

Without RRP, as an industry, we have no baseline, and because as an industry we have so many products coming out each month, there needs to a measure of value for the consumer. That seems to be one of the over-riding features of our industry - a lot of fresh "product" monthly. It's why the discount department stores like books - fresh new "product" to bring in the shoppers. It's a lottery, a gamble, a horse-race (which is part of the excitement) but a few of those books will be winners.

The arguments for net pricing all seem to be part of the same general argument of which the particular arguments against territorial copyright form a part - "let's unfetter the retailer to maximize profit". Is the intent a transfer of profit from the author and publisher and other creators?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

National Youth Self Portrait Prize 2009

The National Portrait Gallery is running a competition. The gallery invites all young Australians between 18 and 25 to enter. (I'm not sure why the lower limit is so old.) 

future of children's TV shows

At black dog, we're passionate about Australian children finding themselves in Australian books - fiction and non-fiction - as well as being being able to read the best in the world. We don't want the local to be swamped by the global. So, it's always interesting to see what is happening in the parallel world of children's television. And the comments of the British TV executive Nigel Pickard are fascinating in today's Green Guide in the Age. It's not online as yet so I can't provide a link as yet, but I'll come back and do so.

The comments that resonated with me:
"Almost every territory you go in to in the world, the top 10 programs will be local programs. You only have to look at what's happening here in Australia with the success of domestic drama this year against bought in drama things like Underbelly and Packed to the Rafters. It's the same for kids' audiences; those shows rate well and have a resonance for the audience."

And while stressing that his campaign for more locally produced content is not an attack on US content (or Oz content in the UK market): "It's a question of balance and ensuring that you have programs available to these kids that does reflect their own culture and lifestyle. A good program is a good program (regardless of origin); just make sure there's enough from your own territory."

His plea for regulation on broadcasters for local content sits well, I think, with the Australian publishers defence of territorial copyright — we have to actively defend local content in TV and in books.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Worth a look if you're interested in cover design

especially Mark Melnick's comments below. Penguin US with a $0 design budget?!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mr Carr's argument for the elimination of territorial copyright

Bob Carr's article in the Weekend Australian (‘The Forum’ 13-14 December 2008) made for interesting reading.

I don't see that removing territorial copyright restriction will mean more books in working-class homes, especially children's books, which I read as the core of Mr Carr's article. I just don't see the argument that books will be cheaper if territorial copyright is removed. We're a market that covers a lot of miles internally and is far away from most other places, especially the US and the UK (the main book markets), so we're expensive to ship books to and to ship them around, so our books will be comparatively expensive however they are sourced. Look at the P&P costs Amazon charges.

There will be fewer children's books in Australian homes (that include children) if Australian children can't find themselves in the books they read. In the long run they'll be less interested in the reading habit if they're always having to read about other people, somewhere else. Is an open market a disincentive to local publishing? I think it is. If we're successful, as publisher and author, first here and then we sell overseas then a bookseller can import these successful books from the foreign publisher and cut our revenue and our author's revenue, then we'll both be struggling to survive professionally. It's the successful books in terms of sales that keep us around to publish another day. Eliminating territorial copyright would be disincentive to sell our books overseas, which the Australian children's publishing industry has been extremely good at doing. Eliminating territorial copyright condemns us to being an importing culture not an exporting culture. Neither the US or the UK are planning to get rid of their territorial copyright provisions.