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London Book Fair 13-16 April

I just got back from London Book Fair and I'm working through my list of follow-up, wondering how to evaluate whether the effort and expense really justifies it. One thing that emerged is that printed prices on books is becoming a thing of the past. Given the strong Euro and weak dollar, the book's dollar price tends to devalue its sterling and Euro price. We're actually reprinting our Rucksack Readers leaflet without its US dollar prices at the request of our European distributor for just this reason.

Worse still, we've just realised that booksellers are buying direct from Amazon.com so as to undercut prices further. One of the bizarre by-products of globalisation (combined with the number of book trade middlemen working for narrow margins) is that many of our books are now crossing the Atlantic twice before being sold at a discount via Marketplace on Amazon.co.uk. Added to the 6000 miles they travel to reach us from our printer in Hong Kong, they are doing high mileages before they start. The customer who buys on UK Marketplace has no idea of this: the booksellers themselves claim "dispatched from the UK" – which is true only after they've completed their 12,000 miles! And in case you're wondering why books appear on Marketplace at daft prices like £0.01, it's because the seller still gets £2.75 p&p and the seller minimises what they pay to Amazon in fees. So if you can find what you're looking for on Marketplace, as a consumer you may win (but remember to add on the £2.75 before deciding if it's really a bargain).

The dollar price conversation didn't really happen at Book Fair because I discovered something even more interesting from our US distributors, Interlink Publishing: its President, Michel and his partner Hildi are interested in climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. My own book Explore Mount Kilimanjaro is in its third edition, but I had been half-thinking of returning to check out a fourth approach route from the west (Lemosho) for a new version. The idea seemed both tempting (the chance to refresh photographs, update the other routes and experience Lemosho for myself) and scary (what if I'm already past it? how will I remain credible? do I really need to go through all that again?). However, fired by Michel's enthusiasm I'm in the process of booking up through Harry Kikstra's www.7summits.com website. We'll probably go in June.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 16, 2008 4:11 PM.

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