Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Should on-line bookshops be a threat to NZ 'bricks and mortar' type?

A comment encountered frequently from conventional bookshops in NZ now is that overseas cyber bookshops, Amazon in particular, compete for business with them in respect of overseas published books. This notwithstanding the fact that most of these same shops have their own direct-sell websites.
This raises the question - what percentage of the range of books in NZ bookshops is NZ published and what percentage is imported? There is no accurate means of assessing this other than by inspecting a few shops and making an estimate. We have done this in a few towns and cities now, and our estimate is that only about 4-5% of the typical range on offer is from NZ publishers. With the likes of Whitcoulls and Paper Plus that is being generous.
About 3,000 new books a year are published by commercial NZ publishers according to the Legal Deposit Office, so it would not be difficult for these shops to fill a much larger percentage of shelf space with local product. If they are so concerned about the likes of Amazon selling books from US and UK publishers direct by mail to local customers, why don't they?
Foreign cyber bookshops have the advantage of not having to charge Value Added Tax - i.e. GST - on their export orders, but the complaint about that should be leveled at the NZ Government for its high rate of tax on books. In the UK, for example, there is no VAT on books, while most of the other European counties have rates between 4 to 7%. The NZ book industry publishers suffer a heavy burden in comparison.

1 comment:

Maria Gill said...

I say put no taxes on NZ books and more on overseas books - we've got far too many (overseas authored books) in our book stores as it is. Let's make more room for NZ authored books. For that matter - why don't booksellers put more NZ books at front of store and invest in as much marketing as they do for overseas books. NZ books are an endangered and rare species. For example, several years ago about 50 NZ children's non-fiction books were published - this year we might be lucky to see 15. Last year only about 100 children's books were published. Does that mean 2,900 books for adults were published or does that include educational books?
Now don't get me wrong - I love to read international books too but do we have to import all the rubbish from overseas? It would be okay if as many of our books were sold overseas but that is rare.
Some booksellers are very supportive of NZ authors - THANK YOU!
I'm doing my bit on this blog: as are the NZ Book Council. I put the challenge out to the rest of you - a NZ book before an overseas book. Get the overseas one from a library.