24 December 2012

Time for Grinching

What's a year without a good, therapeutic session of complaining talking about things which have irked, which have bugged, which have FINGERSDOWNTHECHALKBOARD bothered me?  These are the things I could have done without this year:

Special Australian Prices

Things cost more in Australia.  It's not because of shipping.  It's not taxes.  It's not the exchange rate.  It's Because. 

For example, Redshirts costs just over $11 in the US Kindle store, and over $17 in the same store, if you're Australian.  Publishers (and other manufacturers, such as game companies) are aware that Australians got stuck paying much more back in the 80s when the Australian dollar was worth 60c US and everything was physical, not electronically transmitted.  Once those factors changed, the prices were artificially jacked up because there was an opportunity for money to be made. 

I buy 90% of my books in e-form.  If I hit an artificially inflated price, I usually just lose interest in the book and go buy something else.  [The highest e-book novel price I've encountered was $27.  I've heard tell of much higher.]

Special Australian Release Dates

From The Hobbit (released a week later than the rest of the world) to Doctor Who, to entire series of television, to e-books with Australian release dates of Never.

The Scalzi example above is an interesting one, because he gets quite shirty with people who complain about the prices and availability of his books when he posts about them on his blog. His stance being that he needs to maximise his income and selling by region is one of the ways to do it, so don't complain to him.

Yeah, perfectly justifiable attitude, but, well, I guess I'm no loss to him as a reader.

KDP Select

KDP Select, which Amazon brought in at the end of last year, offers self-publishers advantages (most importantly better treatment by its algorithms) in exchange for exclusivity.  It instantly divided the self-publishing community, and continues to be a large point of contention.

This year Amazon upped by ante by giving favourable royalties to those in Select (in all its newer stores, those in Select get 70% royalty, and the rest of us get 35%).

I hate exclusivity so, even though I don't sell particularly well on the other retailers, I won't go near Select.  But it annoys the heck out of me because (either coincidentally or as a result), my sales momentum dropped considerably when it came in.  I've never again sold in the numbers I managed just prior to Select.


The thing which annoyed me most about all the reviewer bullying dramas this past year is the complete incomprehension of the word "bullying".  Bullying is not having a different opinion from a crowd or an individual.  Bullying is not saying you didn't like something.  Even if you express that opinion harshly, or with funny pictures.

Extra-infuriating was the fact that most of the really over-the-top "bullying" accusations of the year revolved around politely-worded, even-handed reviews which happened to discuss the poor depiction of women.

There's other things which annoyed me over the year (the Australian media's campaign against Julia Gillard for a start), but these are the big ones, so that's it for my Christmas Eve grinch.

What brought out the bah-humbug in you this year?


  1. Being told that the last 2.5 years I've spent on getting my Paralegal associate's degree is next to useless for the field I want without practical experience and I can't get practical experience without an internship which I can't get without practical experience.

    It seems a$$ backwards...

  2. That sounds seriously Catch 22 Lexie. :( [Lawyers in NSW get their degree and then they have to go to the College of Law for a couple of months, where they learn how to actually practice. Highly strange.]

  3. Does that replace their internship or practicals or is that in addition to? Seems weird not to teach it alongside theory...oh oh wait are you commonlaw or civil law based do you know?

  4. No internships/practicals (that I'm aware of). We're based on the English system.

  5. Hm now that's interesting then (America is common law as well, except in a couple states). Time to ask my professor about this! :D

  6. I also get annoyed at the price of some ebooks, even over here, but Australian prices are pretty ridiculous for a lot of things. Nomes and I talk about it all the time--going to the movies, for instance. My favorite theater has $5 Tuesdays, even with new releases. Otherwise most movies cost $10 or $11. Nomes says it costs even more down there.

    The bullying thing is so tiring and I agree with you that many of the instances from the past year resulted from what I'd consider to be pretty mild reviews. From the other side of it, there were quite a few author convos on Twitter or blog posts that made me just roll my eyes and write an author off my to-read list.

  7. It cost me $19 to see the non-3D version of The Hobbit. Over the top.

  8. Hmm, not that Scalzi needs my defense, but I thought his tradition was to get shirty with people complaining *to him* about pricing and availability, because the author typically has no control over most of the decisions of the publisher. The stuff you cite above seems like pretty typical practice for most anticipated bestsellers, as far as I can tell.

    Otherwise I totally agree, and Redshirts is a fine example of a total gouge of a title. I want to read it but won't until it's released in standard paperback, the Kindle price normalises or it shows up at the library.

    As for what I got sick of in 2012, it's probably safest if I just mutter something deprecating about the withering standards of parliamentary conduct and leave it at that...

  9. Yeah, Scalzi's talking about people complaining on his blog to him. But he is choosing to sell his rights by region. If he didn't choose to parcel off English language ebook rights in that way (to maximise up-front money), there'd be a greater chance that the books would be available more widely and more reasonably. Or, heck, he could even specify in his contract that he didn't want these things to happen.

    "Pretty typical practice" is practice that the author chooses to endorse by signing a specific sort of contract.


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