A Beginning, Middle and End
Every year we take on several QUT students for internships in copywriting, web design and development. If you’d like to apply, visit our jobs page.
Stay tuned for more posts from Laura as she completes her 10 week internship. Over to you, Laura.
I adore books, love bookstores and want to support face-to-face shopping, but what do we do when our choices are limited and prices are high?
A visit to the bookshop
This week I bought a book from a shopping centre bookshop chain. I’m a booklover, but it’s been a while. Neat stacks adorned a trolley at the front, and red posters unfurled from the ceiling. David Sedaris and Stephen Fry found themselves in the 50% off section, probably for the first time. These books had come to die.
Meanwhile, I’ve been checking my letterbox with increasing frustration. Where is my copy of Castle in the Pyrenees? My best guess is somewhere in transit between London and New Farm. It was expensive at my university bookshop and non-existent in some stores I tried. The answer was online shopping—overseas online shopping. Surely Australian online shopping (books, electronics, homewares) has a long way to go.
Out of the frying pan and into my trolley
At least three-quarters of the books I buy are from overseas companies, bought online, within minutes. They arrive in my mail box, free from postage and—happily for these online companies—I’m almost certain to throw a couple of unplanned extras into the proverbial trolley (Yes, I might also like these others, thank you.)
Writing on the wall
My friend met me for a drink last week. She didn’t feel like rushing, so she sat in the park for a little longer, reading the latest Scandinavian thriller on her Kindle. I’m keen to try one, and although I won’t start pitching my tomes off the balcony just yet, an ebook reader is almost certainly something I’ll buy in the future. This is another example of how the internet is changing the competitive landscape for bricks and mortar retailers. Could Australian retailers have been more proactive and changed sooner?
Research tells me that my friend with the Kindle is not alone and the numbers are growing. Bloomsbury (of the Harry Potter franchise) reports that a quarter of its total sales are now made from ebooks. Australia’s own Borders and Angus and Robertson were arguably late to the ebooks party and have suffered. Leon Gettler blames Borders’ “supermarket strategy” that treated “books like potatoes”. On 17th February, Borders was placed into administration. Although it’s not the end for them—and I certainly hope it isn’t—their future will be extraordinary and hard. John Birmingham believes in a silver lining: “a renaissance in the independent bookshop sector.”
The prodigal book returns
Although this short film is billed as the tale of “a sad book” ostracised by its “fancy pants tech cousins”, I think it highlights the opposite. A girl receives a book from a friend. The book endures a terrifying biblio-ordeal (the girl forgets the book, then uses it to swat flies) but mid-way through the tale, she uncovers it and sees it anew. The girl takes the book to her favourite places and is immersed in it.
A beginning, middle and end
Australia demands a robust, thriving book marketplace, both in store and online. For jobs, for education and for cultural value, books are vital. The story isn’t over yet. A great many people can’t wait to see how it all ends.