Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country

Just after Xmas the US National Book Award judges voted the great American novelist Peter Matthiessen's magnum opus Shadow Country the 2008 winner of its prestigious award.

Writers like Don DeLillo and Richard Ford have raved about this book. Annie Dillard called it 'a masterpiece of world literature..I would give it every prize and award on earth'. The New York Times called it 'as powerful a reading experience as nearly any in our literature'.

When the award was announced I saw a marvellous interview with Matthiessen on Jim Lehrer's Newshour and immediately ordered the book from Amazon. I assumed, as you would, that no Australian bookseller would yet have it and would be waiting for the British edition to eventually find its way to these shores in any case.

I was wrong. Today in the Avenue bookstore in Albert Park there in all its freshly minted glory was a copy of the lavishly printed, hardback, Random House, American edition! At 900 pages this is a big book, carrying a US price of $40.00. Avenue had imported it directly and priced it A$65.00, which is today's exchange rate plus GST, an extremely fair and reasonable price. Well done Chris.

I looked up TitlePage, the industry price and availability service, to see what the local supplier - possibly Random but probably not - had priced it at and what their stock situation was. No information. Nothing. Zip. The database had never heard of it.

That says all you need to know about parallel importation, and why our local industry needs a competitive rod shoved up its arse!


Steve Jones said...

What a shame you don't live in Sydney. We have the paperback edition at $30

Steve, Kinokuniya

Peter Donoughue said...

Great! I guess you had to import it?
(Liked your submission to the PC by the way!)

Steve Jones said...

I’m still not aware of it being released in Australia, so there is no other option other than to import.

As for the submission; thanks. There is a lot of misinformation out there that could almost be comical if it weren’t silly. I guess I will be the one groaning in 10 years time when the subject is brought up again.

Rory said...

More on Matthiessen and Shadow Country...I hope you all get to read it!