Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Big, Sane, Optimistic, Blockbuster of a Book!

Professor Ian Plimer's Heaven+Earth: Global Warming - the Missing Science lobbed like a grenade into the climate change debate last week, and, boy, did it create a storm!

I've been absorbed in this 500 page, deeply academic, heavily footnoted monster for five days, and what a real, visceral pleasure it has been.

This book will undoubtedly become a classic. Plimer is an Australian geologist, well known and highly regarded internationally. He shot to fame in the 80's and 90's for taking on and, virtually single-handedly, demolishing the obscene Christian fundamentalists who wanted to replace the teaching of evolution in US schools with creationism and, later, 'Intelligent Design'.

He is on a similar crusade in this book, bringing a huge amount of scientific knowledge and expertise to the deeply flawed science underpinning the global warming disaster scenarios contained in the UN's IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) reports released over the last decade.

You may think, as I certainly did, that Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth encapsulated it all, that it was a powerful, persuasive film, and that the IPCC reports, particularly the fourth and final summary one released in 2007, and the Stern and Garnault reports since then, were all based on what has become known as 'the accepted science'. Well, Plimer blows that whole illusion away. It is an incredibly comprehensive, wholesale demolition of what he regards as politically inspired, consensus driven, pseudo science.

I normally don't read science. I failed both Physics and Chemistry in year 12. I'm an Arts wanker. But I was absolutely sucked in by this book. It's tough going - you have to concentrate and take it slowly, but as you read, the overwhelming logic of it grips you and you become hooked. It's virtually unputdownable!

In my mind the greatest virtue of all is sanity. This book has it in abundance. Sanity leads to optimism, like night follows day. And optimism is what we all need in these dark days.

Buy this book and read it, as best you can. You won't regret it, I promise you. It could well be one of those books that changes your life.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Exclusive!..The Productivity Commission's Final Report - weeks before its official release!

I have just been delivered in a dream a newly minted copy of the Commission's final report due to be presented to the government on May 13 this year.

This is what it says in the Executive Summary:

1. After extensive consultations with all sectors of the industry we now believe that the recommendations contained in our Draft Report of March 2009 were wrong. We had recommended that the PIRs be removed after the first 12 months of first publication. We had genuinely thought that this compromise position would be accepted by most industry participants, despite it not meeting their preferred 'no change' position. We had agreed with them that total abolition would be disruptive and negatively impact the cultural externalities that the Commission identified as a social and economic good. The total abolition option would not be prudent. Even under our compromise position we recognised that the industry would undergo a certain amount of shrinkage and some firms not survive. Authors' incomes and cultural impacts might be reduced. However we had suggested various ways we thought the industry could mitigate these negative impacts, for example by delaying any export sales so as to eliminate the possibility of overseas editions of original Australian works being imported back into Australia within the first 12 months of publication.

2. To our surprise however the industry has unanimously rejected our recommendations. No support from any sector or participant, either during the round tables or in the follow-up submissions, was forthcoming. In fact, they seemed to have produced more anger, if anything.

3. The Commission has therefore decided, in this final report, to recommend the total abolition option as the only viable one. The economics of this option are clear cut, as spelt out in our Draft. Benefits will accrue to the economy at large, despite there being initial adjustment costs for the book industry.

4. Also, after further consideration and analysis of the many submissions the enquiry elicited, the Commission now recognises that our earlier assessment of negative impacts to the industry was misplaced. We had taken at face value a number of claims made by industry participants in our genuine belief that they knew what they were talking about. After a great deal of further reflection, and being further belted around the ears by industry participants who often accused us of bad faith, we now realise our mistake. We should have critically engaged with the industry's arguments and vigorously rejected the vast majority of them for the confused and wrong-headed nonsense that they were. By not doing this we ceded too much ground, constructed what we thought was a compromise, and have been roundly condemned in the process! BIG mistake!

5. Where are the industry's confusions? These are the main ones:

- Territorial Copyright. Surprisingly, the vast majority of submissions failed to appreciate that the PIRs have nothing to do with the existence or otherwise of territorial copyright in Australia. Removing the PIRs will in no way remove the ability of publishers and authors to sign exclusive Australian rights. It's like a fence around a house. It's added security but removing it does not remove the essential ownership and enjoyment of the house. In submission after submission this confusion manifests itself, rendering most of what the submissions say irrelevant.

- Copyright. Many submissions accuse the Commission of seeking to end 'copyright' after 12 months. Claims that under the commission's draft recommendation authors and publishers will only enjoy copyright protection for the first 12 months, are a variance of the territorial copyright confusion addressed above, but demonstrate more tellingly the absence of any clear thinking around essential facts associated with the PIRs and their place in the Australian book trade.

- Exclusivity. Most of the same submissions blithely assume that ending the PIRs would end 'exclusivity', an essential feature of territorial copyright. Certainly the law of the land would no longer provide additional protection to exclusive agreements entered into freely by willing parties. Contract law alone would govern and secure these agreements, as is the case for the vast majority of commercial agreements entered into by businesses and individuals. It would be up to the parties themselves to police their exclusivity under contract law.

- Dumping. Again, the vast majority of submissions showed ignorance on this point. It should not be the role of the Commission to have to educate industry players on the basics of the way their industry's supply line works, but it seems we have to. Once exclusive, territorial rights contracts have been entered into by an Australian publisher with an overseas entity, be it an agent or publisher, no other publisher is at liberty to market, sell, or distribute into Australia, directly or through an Australian-based supplier, any other edition of that work. This does not mean that third party wholesalers, however, can't supply orders from Australian booksellers. They can, quite legally. But this is not dumping, under any circumstances. It's importing by the bookseller.

- PIRs in the US and the UK. Many submissions referred to the legally protected status of these territories, and questioned why Australia would want to 'go it alone' in abolishing its equivalent PIRs. Once it is recognised that Australia would retain its exclusivity under contract the issue becomes marginal in relevance. But both the UK and the US situations are informative. Under EU law British booksellers can legally import any US edition sold in continental Europe and compete with the UK edition. British publishers don't like this but they're living with it. It's commercially controllable because there's not much additional margin in it for the bookseller, if any, and the supply line is messy. As for the US there's simply no logic in a US bookseller importing direct from the UK because the US editions are invariably cheaper. What would be the point?

6. In conclusion, the Commission now believes, after extensive and quite frustrating consultation with the industry, and after reading hundreds of misguided, confused, illogical and just plain mad (the APA's) submissions, that the premonitions of apocalypse can be easily rebutted and should therefore be comprehensively ignored.

7. We believe the industry will continue to prosper once the PIRs are removed and a period of transition has passed. We recommend the new, open regime be implemented after two years from this date. This will give the industry sufficient time to do some serious, informed and unemotional thinking.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Editor of Meanjin Sophie Cunningham writes in today's Crikey:

Just as Melbourne’s heat wave was building, a couple of weeks before 7 February, many Victorians experienced a perfect summer afternoon. Even as the afternoon unfolded, even before nostalgia had had a chance to bloom, it felt like a golden time. Leonard Cohen was performing in a vineyard in the Yarra Valley. The temperature was perfect, the ambience joyful, the music sublime.

There he was, a short 75-year-old man in an old-fashioned suit and hat, who’d been forced back onto the concert circuit after being defrauded of millions of dollars, delivering a performance that felt like a blessing. He was present, engaged, intelligent, in control and sang songs written thirty years ago with a sense of both depth and irony that only time and age can bring. It was a kind of revelation. Good artists do keep on getting better. Their work does remain relevant. The question is, does government know how to support either the relevance or the revelations?

That afternoon is all the more crystallised by what’s happened since: fire, flood, and a looming depression. When launching the Festival of Ideas -- Climate Change/Cultural Change (it’s being held at the University of Melbourne from 15 to 20 June), festival director Patrick McCaughey argued that we have to see this as a time of transformation, not cataclysm. I confess that I have been trying to think about the debate over the Productivity Commission’s proposed changes to copyright rules in the same way but now the discussion draft of their proposal has been released they have succeeded in confusing the issue to such a degree that it’s hard to remain so sanguine.

Let me paint you a picture. You are an Australian literary agent with a local author called -- well, let me call her Leonora Cohen. There is interest in her work from a publisher in the UK and from an Australian independent publishing house. The catch is that, if the Productivity Commission’s recommendations go through, the UK publisher will maintain copyright over Cohen’s work for as long as they keep the work in print, while the Australian publisher will lose their copyright after twelve months. It will make sense, then, for the agent to keep talking to the UK publisher.

As well as being overlooked in such "auctions", these independent houses now have to take the risk that if they take on an as-yet-unknown writer in whom no overseas house has shown an interest, thereby drawing attention to the writer’s talent, the literary agent may then succeed in selling that writer’s rights overseas. At that point the overseas publisher could then compete directly with the Australian publisher. Australian publishers, then, will have to be motivated by faith alone -- they sure won’t have any laws on their side.

If you don’t care about the survival of independent publishing in Australia -- houses such as Allen & Unwin, Scribe, Text Publishing and Melbourne University Publishing -- perhaps this doesn’t bother you. But to add a bit of colour to this picture, let me point out that if compelled to sign her head contract with a UK publisher, it is possible Leonora Cohen will earn less income. This is because she makes about $3000 on every 1000 copies sold of her $33 book if she sells her work through an Australian publisher, but less than one-third of that if her work is sold through an English publisher because she will get an export royalty. It’s like being an Australian writer in the 1950s all over again.

The logic behind opening up copyright after twelve months is that -- according to the commission -- most of a book’s sales are achieved in the first year. This is, not to put too fine a point on it, bullsh-t. It might be true for unsuccessful or only modestly successful novels, but successful novels -- such as Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet for example -- achieve the bulk of their sales after 12 months. So, the commission is particularly penalising successful Australian authors and forcing them to seek publishers elsewhere.

Back to Leonora. She’s a well-networked young woman. She meets Salman Rushdie, who has come to Australia for the launch of Melbourne’s new Centre for Books and Writing. In an animated conversation about the Australian publishing industry she points out to him that Australian writers without overseas publishers will soon have less copyright protection than their English and American counterparts. Rushdie muses whether this is some kind of post-postcolonialism in which power is returned to the coloniser. Leonora goes home and reads the detail of the commission’s report online.

Early in the report there is the following statement: "Australian publishing has flourished over recent decades", but Leonora fails to see how this could continue to be the case, given the kind of cultural sabotage the commission is considering implementing. Leonora begins to wonder if the people who prepared the report for the Productivity Commission actually understand what writers do, what publishers do, the difference between them and how culture in Australia is produced.

She gets depressed and listens to her namesake (who, incidentally has an independent Australian publisher, Text Publishing, who makes his novels available to Australia’s reading public.):

I said to Hank Williams: how lonely does it get?
Hank Williams hasn’t answered yet
But I hear him coughing all night long
A hundred floors above me
In the tower of song
I’m just paying my rent every day

In the tower of song.

This is the editorial to the next Meanjin 68:2, in bookshops June 1.

This was my reply:


I'm sorry, but your piece is about as silly as it's possible to get!

The issue is not about territorial copyright, much less copyright in general. It's about the residual constraints on direct bookseller importation that exist in the copyright act: the 30/90 day provisions.

I for one - and I do know something about publishing having worked in the industry for 35 years - welcome the proposed abolition of these provisions, because I'm optimistic enough to believe that the industry and all its various players will benefit, as will the consumer.

Your logic is quite absurd. You are actually arguing that removing the fence will destroy the house and make it uninhabitable. Or removing the security patrols from around the apartment block will extinguish all the property rights of the apartment owners. Or removing the scaffolding will make the completed building fall down. Or removing the wire guard will cause the grown tree to wither and die. I could go on.

Don't confuse the Parallel Importation Restrictions (PIRs) with the entirely separate legal reality of copyright, which is governed and protected by contract.

Booksellers will only import when the local rightsholder is not servicing them competitively and professionally. It would not be good business to do otherwise. It will therefore remain a marginal activity, a prod to improve performance.

Publishers will have a strategic choice: step up and compete, or retreat and die. Most, quite sensibly, will do the former.

Leonora will be a winner!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Life under an open market

How exactly would the Australian book trade change if the government abolished the Parallel Importation Restrictions? (The chances of which are most probably a big fat zero, by the way, so this is an academic exercise only!).

There have been plenty of Chicken Little, 'we'll all be rooned' disaster scenarios painted by authors and publishers, but all of them are junk, based on a profound misunderstanding of the issues.

So here are my projections:

1. Publishers who import lists or buy rights to overseas titles will be far more responsive to currency exchange rates. When the dollar strengthens against the US$ or pound, prices will have to come down. Of course, this should be happening now, if publishers took more seriously their customer-focused strategies and, frankly, ethical obligations. But it isn't. Over the last five years when the dollar reached historic highs, particularly against the US$, very few publishers lowered their mark-ups.

2. Booksellers, both chain and independent, would step up their direct importing from wholesalers Ingram and Baker and Taylor. This would never become a flood but would be a constant niggle, keeping publishers honest and on their toes. It would never become more than marginal because publishers would eliminate the business logic of it by responsive pricing and improved service.

3. Booksellers would enjoy more generous trading terms. Rebates on increased volumes would become universal. Rebates reward loyalty and would therefore inhibit buying around, all other things being equal. It's disappointing to see independent booksellers siding with publishers against opening the market, because they would undoubtedly benefit through these sweetened terms. It won't just be Dymocks and other chains. Sale or return on the backlist would once again be the norm, and small order surcharges would be rare. We'd also see more flexibility on credit terms. Of course, booksellers' profits would improve. There'd very likely be a transfer of profitability from publishers to booksellers, to the tune of about two percentage points on my rough calculations. Since publisher profitability has never been higher over recent years - around 10% - and bookseller profitability never been lower - barely 2% - THIS IS NO BAD THING! Strong, profitable customers are good for everyone's business.

4. The dominant local format, especially on backlist titles, will become the 'B' format, or literary paperback format. There will be a distinct move away from the more expensive $32.95 'C' format, in order to compete effectively with the premier US paperback which would sell here for around $26.95. Publishers will need to do this to close off this import route and ensure local sourcing. This might mean less revenue, but it might also translate into higher unit sales over time as pricing becomes more responsive to consumers' ability to pay.

5. More inventory would be kept locally. Publishers' demand forecasting systems would need to be state of the art to keep expensive air freighting under control. This would be an important factor in reducing the business logic of buying around.

6. There would be a boost to local publishing, printing, rights buying and adaptation, and consequently exports, not the reverse as has been universally claimed. Local publishing would bring higher levels of predictability and security to publishers' revenues and profits. It would be the principal growth strategy.

7. Australian authors would be advantaged, and be as critical to the trade's overall fortunes as ever. So would local printers be advantaged.

8. Quality booksellers would improve their indenting skills and systems. Thousands of important new and backlist US titles would be regularly stocked on local shelves, titles that don't generally see the light of day in Australia now.

All these changes, brought about by the real or imagined threat of direct bookseller importation, would give a dynamic competitive boost to the ordinary business of the trade. And the real winner would be the Australian consumer.

Finally, publishers would have a strategic choice: they could chose to step up and compete, or they could chose not to play, to retreat. I firmly believe the great majority will step up. It's what they did when the 30/90 reforms were introduced two decades ago, and it's what they'll do now.

It's just a shame we'll probably never get the opportunity to find out.

Step up Kev!

Monday, April 13, 2009

After fourty years a theological catch up!

As most of my friends and colleagues know I spent my early adult years in Rome studying theology.

They were four fruitful years of intense intellectual exploration of Catholicism and the Judeo-Christian tradition.

I returned to Australia in 1969, did an Arts degree at Sydney University and subsequently began a long career in publishing.

I have often wondered, however, how theological thinking has developed over the last 40 years. We all know how the institutional church has developed, if 'developed' is the appropriate word, but what about the academic study of theology? I never had the time to keep abreast of things, until now.

So over the last few months these are the books on theology I have read:

Consider Jesus and Quest for the Living God, both by US feminist theologian Elizabeth Johnson. These books bring anybody up to date who, like me, wants to know what the current thinking is around core Christian beliefs. She is an exceptionally lucid writer and stylist but I must say I was disappointed. Despite being a leading feminist thinker, conscious of the 'oppressive patriarchal, androcentric' nature of the tradition, she seems to show little awareness of post-structuralist philosophies that have dominated European thought over the past three decades (the dreaded 'po-mo'!). She writes from 'inside the beltway' as it were, using language without any sense that the 'God-talk' itself is problematic.

I've never had much truck with the feminist school in any case. To wipe whole linguistic articulations off as 'patriarchy' is just not deep, especially formulations forged in the furnace of fierce debate and controversy over hundreds of years. Feminist theology is a sub-category of liberation theology, as are Latino and black theologies. Ecological theology is also currently influential. The problem I have with all these perspectives is that they self-evidently shoehorn Christianity into the service of a left wing political agenda, and thereby limit and weaken it, and constrain its possibilities. However theology seems to have developed this way. The river has overflowed into numerous streams and tributaries, satisfying discrete and diverse populations, and running in different directions.

Rausch's and McBrien's books on the history and future of the Church are refreshing reminders that today's arch-conservative, established, defensive institution is far from all there is. Both books give superb overviews of church history over the course of the last two millennia, and deep insights into contemporary challenges. Although huge strides have been made in the ecumenical dialogue between Christian churches, the one big challenge is Islam.

Charles Curran's history of moral theology as practised in the US brought home to me how deep the fissures in the Church really are. Progressive, or revisionist, theologians have been routinely castigated and silenced by Rome, frequently in league with US bishops, for their liberal views on abortion, in-vitro fertilisation, euthanasia, homosexuality, divorce, etc. The left/right split is not merely an academic tussle but a fierce, career defining struggle.

I've long thought that the Church should just get out of the business of worrying about contraception. Why does it matter what natural, chemical or mechanical methods couples use to inhibit conception? They are all means to an end that the Church has no problem with. Avoiding conception itself has never been the issue. Where the Church ensnares itself is in its residual attachment to the old medieval 'natural law' belief that all sexual intercourse is about procreation, and even when married couples are indulging primarily in Eros, or pleasure, the act must remain open to the possibility of conception. This is where sense leaves the planet. The ancient belief that semen was the prime source of life (the existence of the female ovum was not discovered until the 19th century) has led to the church's horror of semen 'wastage' and 'unnatural' extrusion. Thus, not only is any deliberate contraceptive act that thwarts the semen's essential life-giving role morally wrong, but so is masturbation. Very soon this thinking spirals into inanity. Sperm banks are wrong. IVF therefore is wrong....

The great majority of Catholics around the world continue to ignore the church's official position on contraception as outlined in the 1968 papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, but plenty of conservative theologians, along with the hierarchy, are still vigorously defending it. After 40 years I'm amazed that this is still a lively debate.

There doesn't seem to have been much advance in thinking on the critical subject of homosexuality either. This is profoundly disappointing. Of course many progressive theologians advocate inclusivist views, but an understanding of what homosexuality actually is and what positive role it plays in human society is missing. You have to go to literary and cultural critics such as the fabulous Camille Paglia for this. No-one expects any major religious tradition to grant homosexuality a privileged status, but this does not mean it can't be celebrated. (For those up for an invigorating challenge, read Paglia's masterpiece Sexual Personae, one of most provocative and ground-breaking books on cultural criticism written in the last 20 years).
It's been exciting embarking on this theological adventure once again. But it's also been disappointing to witness the sameness and tentativeness of many of the debates. Progressive thinking and exploration is obviously being repressed by hierarchical authority. Too many theologians are effectively being shut down. Academic freedom is tokenistic.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Crikey and Dymocks and my reply

Jeff Sparrow, editor of the journal Overland, had this to say in the Crikey newsletter last week:

The economist John Maynard Keynes once explained that the free market rested on "the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone".

The book chain Dymocks might not be wicked but there’s something a little coy about its current campaign for the parallel importation of books into Australia. Parallel importation would allow booksellers to import overseas editions, irrespective of whether they’d already been published in Australia. It’s a measure resisted by most authors and all Australian publishers, who fear that exposure to open market will wipe out the local industry. Interestingly, parallel importation’s also opposed -- and for similar reasons -- by the Australian Booksellers Association as well as by the majority of its individual members.

Dymocks presumably calculates that its size will provide a competitive advantage when it comes to dumping discounted or remaindered overseas books on the Australian market. But that’s not the kind of argument that carries much public weight. So when former NSW Premier Bob Carr writes on parallel importation for the Oz, he doesn’t say: look, I’m on the board of Dymocks, and this proposal will make me and my mates a lot of money. Instead, he explains that Adam Smith’s invisible hand, protector of readers the world over, will rest its sainted palm on working class kids and transform them into lovers of literature.

Now in the midst of a GFC, most people feel less than confident about entrusting the cultural development of their children to the same free market that just destroyed their retirement, and so despite the best efforts of Dymocks and Mr Carr, there’s been little public enthusiasm for parallel importation: of the 268 submissions received by the Productivity Commission, some 260 opposed the idea.

Hence Dymocks’ latest wheeze. If you are a member what Dymocks calls its Booklover’s Loyalty Program, you would have recently received an email explaining: "We need your help to bring you cheaper books."

Goodness, you might say. How do I get those cheaper books?

"The Australian Government, through the Productivity Commission, is reviewing the restrictive laws that unnecessarily inflate the price of books. The current laws stop Australian Booksellers importing books other than through the Australian subsidiaries or agents of overseas publishers. This may sound reasonable but it prevents copyright-protected books from being imported from the most competitive market, usually the United States or the UK, whichever is the cheapest when ordering. The current law stops us buying books at the lowest price to put in our stores for you to buy. […]

"Dymocks and the Coalition for Cheaper Books believe Australian booklovers deserve better. Dymocks believes that lower prices will enable more Australians to read more and as a consequence Australian literacy levels will improve. Dymocks believes that the Australian book industry should be driven by the Australian book buyer and not the local subsidiaries and agents of overseas publishers."

The email concludes by suggesting that, if booklovers don’t want greedy foreigners preventing dinkum firms like Dymocks from educating Aussie battlers, they should sign up on a petition in support of the Coalition for Cheaper Books.

And who, pray tell, is in this coalition? Well, naturally it’s an alliance of firms long known for their association with fine writing … K-Mart, Target and Big W (no, really!).

PR insiders call the creation of phony grass roots campaign "astroturfing" -- it’s the technique that led Philip Morris to fund the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (where "sound science" was defined as anything that proved the healthful effects of tobacco). One wonders how many Booklovers signed up on a Loyalty Program thinking they’d be used to promote the business interests of K-Mart.

It might be appropriate to mention here that it’s far from certain parallel importation would actually reduce prices. Henry Rosenbloom, from the small publisher Scribe, argues convincingly that it wouldn’t, while the draft produced by the Productivity Commission itself acknowledges substantial uncertainty on the question.

To be fair, Dymocks might protest that its opponents have equally pecuniary motives for defending the status quo. Books are simultaneously artifacts of culture and saleable commodities, which means aesthetics and economics invariably get hopelessly tangled. But you can oppose a free market in publishing without signing on to every jot and tittle of the current arrangements.

Indeed, instead of these tired debates about parallel importation, it would be nice to hear some new arguments about how to foster literary culture. Last week, Scotland's Sunday Herald – like the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Independent on Sunday and the Daily Telegraph before it – abolished its book section. The steady erosion of literary journalism is merely one indication of the difficult environment literary publishing faces in the years to come.

It’s great that we’re going to get super fast broadband but, in the twenty-first century, Gutenberg’s invention could also do with some love.

I posted the following reply:

The publishers and authors defending the status quo are the victims of a truly incredible mass hysteria the likes of which I've never seen in my 35 years of publishing. Now they've been joined by many equally deluded booksellers. For otherwise intelligent people they have fashioned some of the silliest and most illogical pronouncements that protected industries are capable of.

How dare Dymocks seek to buy around over-pricing and under-servicing publishers! Global behemoths like Murdoch, Pearson and Bertelsmann should never be forced to compete with trumped up local retailers from the lower classes. It's just not good for culture!

As for Henry Rosenbloom's 'convincing' arguments that prices could never be lower if imported directly by booksellers, they are rubbish. Henry's calculations are deeply flawed. His multiple of 2.2 to arrive at the retail price is based on a very low A$ - certainly under 60c. Over the last five years, before its recent collapse, the multiple was around 1.6. And that's at an average 80c. The dollar actually went to 96c in mid 2008. Did publishers lower their prices in response? Of course not! Are you joking?

As the Productivity Commission concludes: Australian retail prices were 30% higher than equivalent US editions, and 50% higher than the lowest priced US editions.

Defend that Jeff.