Monday, 26 February 2007

The tyrrany of distance and the second hand book trade

In Australia we often talk about the tyrrany of distance, it means things are more expensive and there can be less choice. The result is that many things, like obscure books to do with my hobby of Roman and early Medieaval history can be more expensive and difficult to get, so I resort to buying things from overseas, usually second hand.

But do I save money?

I recently did a comparison between buying second hand from overseas and buying new from borders of three books:

  • History of the Franks / Gregory of Tours
  • History of the Kings of Britain / Geoffrey of Monmouth
  • Journey through Wales / Giraldus Cambrensis

I compared the list price in Australian Dollars (converted to US Dollars at a rate of AUD 1.00 = USD 0.78) with the cost of the books + shipping bought from Abebooks and Amazon marketplace. In all cases I ignored credit card charges for foreign transactions (around 2.5% of the transaction) and incidental costs such as the cost of parking when I go to Borders. They probably balance out.

And what do we find - on the whole it's cheaper to buy new in Australia than from second hand overseas, even if buying over the web is more convenient. The other thing is that the cost of buying second hand thrugh Abe from an Australian second hand shop is about the same as buying from overseas (shipping's cheaper, books are more expensive, and the only saving is if you can go to the shop)

So, insane as it may seem second hand is not always cheapest

1 comment:

dgm said...

Of course because publishers tend to mark up imported books (and there's 10% GST on them) buying individual new copies from sites such as bookdepository that offer free shipping to Australia can be cheaper than going to Borders ...