Sunday, September 27, 2009

The goon squad

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the launch for the latest and fattest edition of Nicholas Pegg’s The Complete David Bowie, which was really an excuse to catch up with a few old chums and listen to Bowie’s long-lost cover versions of songs from Bugsy Malone (or maybe not). In the excitingly new-look New Statesman (“We are using an entirely new headline font, Unit Slab...”) Peter Wilby describes a similar occasion:
...I buy a copy, as is customary on these occasions, and invite him to sign it. It occurs to me that this is more than I have paid for any book since I last attended a launch. Normally, I rely on two-for-one (or similar) offers, Amazon or Abe Books, and tokens I receive as presents. Are book launches, I wonder, the only occasions when publishers and authors still benefit from anything like the full cover price? And, since these launches are attended largely by other writers, do authors now make a living chiefly by selling their books to each other? Is this sustainable?

6 comments:

aine said...

I´ve just bought your book on Amazon and now feel like a cheapskate. I did pay for international shipping. Though that doesn´t really count. How is Pegg?

Chris said...

What freaks me out slightly is the push in book shops (beyond the drive to sell real books too cheaply) to sell e-readers, so that you never need to come back ever again. What if you like book shops?

blackwatertown said...

re aine: Though I got The Noughties for nowt, I did pay full whack for your Radiohead one, thus bumping up your Amzon rating to an infinitessimal degree.

But on your main point - maybe that's why we're told that everyone has a book in them - to make this only-selling-at-full-price-to-other-authors mullarkey more sustainable.

Tim Footman said...

Pegg's fine, Aine, nicely ensconced as the top dog of Bowie geekery.

I think bookshop devotees will have to make do with charity shops, Chris.

BWT: the notion that everybody has a book in them slightly freaks me out. Makes me think of John Hurt in Alien.

dh said...

If authors trade books do they have to be of equal value, literary merit etc. or do they go by weight?

Tim Footman said...

I hope it’s not weight. Nick’s book is about four times as heavy as mine.