Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Costello memoirs

Let's face it...Peter Costello's book is a dud!

MUP printed 50k copies. They will sell barely 20k, possible 25k. That's all.


As soon as Malcolm Turnbull became Leader of the Opposition - ironically on the very same day The Costello Memoirs was launched - the book's fate was sealed. Instantly Costello became yesterday's man. History.

Such is the fate of many non-fiction titles on politics, business and current affairs. No publisher can ever get the timing exactly right. More often than not you'll be wrong-footed by unfolding events.

But what about the huge success of Mark Latham's book? Well, the zietgeist there was totally different. Labor was in the doldrums; Uninspiring Beazley was back as leader; Howard's poll ratings were good. Things looked depressingly bad for Labor. In this climate Latham's radical and angry polemic was provocative and refreshing.

Of course it sold well. And word of mouth kept it selling for weeks.

How opposite to that is Costello's book. Snooze central, I'm afraid!

ARW's astonishing Espresso adventure

I really fail to appreciate the logic and strategy behind ARW's huge investment in the Espresso POD machine. They intend to roll-out this technology to around 50 of their 200 or so stores across Australia and New Zeala nd.

You have to wonder how much thought went into this. Frankly, while superficially fashionable, this is yesterday's solution to tomorrow's problem.

POD machines in every bookstore - Jason Epstein's vision as articulated in his memoirs of a decade ago - was always a dud of an idea. Investments in printing machines are for printers and possibly publishers, not for barely profitable, main street, high rent paying bookstores. The concept of print on demand is fine, and an everyday reality in the industry now, but it's a specialised business.

Ebook readers are the future - the Kindle, the Iliad, the Sony, and others to come. They'll be a dime a dozen in five or so years, like iPods and mobile phones are now. If you want your book printed buy the paper version or print it yourself.

ARW would be better advised to spend their limited capital on refurbishing their tired-looking stores and - here's a novel idea - buying much more stock of already printed books! That would really be good for business. Doing the basics well will never go out of fashion.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008