The Great Cookbook Debate (or Swindle?)

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (or even here, for that matter) you'll know that I have a mild cookbook addiction. Well, to be honest, I have a serious cookbook addiction. So much so that as our renovations are imminent, I've been effectively banned from buying any more for the foreseeable future! But this past Christmas I was asked what I wanted for my $100 Kris Kringle family gift and I couldn't resist - I wanted a cookbook! 

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The cookbook I had my eye on for a while was Peter Gilmore's Organum. I love his food at Quay and really wanted to get my hands on his gorgeous new tome. So the natural question from the gift-buyer was, where to pick it up? And that, my friends, is when I started to get a bit worked up. I checked my local bookstore, the Constant Reader. Price: $100. Then I checked Amazon. Price: $88, with shipping, and that's with the atrocious Aussie dollar at the moment. Well, let's see what Bookdepository.com charges. Price: $67, with shipping. Wait a second... this is an Aussie Chef, from an Aussie publisher, and it's CHEAPER to buy it overseas and get it shipped in? I could possibly see it when the dollar was stronger than the US, but now??

My gift-giver waited until the last moment so ended up buying the book at a local store for $100. I got it home, opened it up, and found that there was an iPad addendum app. Yay! And then I discovered it was another $8. This is completely insane. I had to talk to the publisher.

That evening I sent Murdoch Book a couple tweets and an email, asking questions like: "Why do you charge $100 for a cookbook and then add $8 to get the iPad addendum app?" The answer was that they don't publish the app, and therefore don't control its pricing. That ignores the fact that the app references the book throughout and the book had a promo flyer for the app. I also asked things like, "Why the disparity?". Keep in mind that the price was $57 at the time overseas. I said that consumers would be feeling confused at best, ripped off at worst. I kindly said I'd look forward to their reply.

A couple days later, the reply came. "Thank you for your email. I've passed this onto our Sales & Marketing Director who will assess if it's appropriate to offer a comment." And that was that, no further reply. So clearly the publishers simply want us to ignore the disparity and the fact that we're paying massive premiums for cookbooks that are published here and feature our chefs and restaurants. How pervasive was this? I did a little research.

A couple days later, the reply came. "Thank you for your email. I've passed this onto our Sales & Marketing Director who will assess if it's appropriate to offer a comment." And that was that, no further reply. So clearly the publishers simply want us to ignore the disparity and the fact that we're paying massive premiums for cookbooks that are published here and feature our chefs and restaurants. How pervasive was this? I did a little research.

Quay, Peter Gilmore - Bookstores, $94. Overseas (incl shipping), $58

Marque, Mark Best - Bookstores, $49. Overseas (incl shipping), $39

Rockpool Bar & Grill, Neil Perry - Bookstores, $80. Overseas (incl shipping), $66

Origin, Ben Shewry - Bookstores, $95. Overseas (incl shipping), $67

I could go on. Even with the numbskull idea of adding GST to sub-$1,000 purchases the differential doesn't add up. What gives? Do you think this is fair? Do you work in publishing and can add some background to the conversation? I just don't get it. And I certainly won't buy any books locally until it changes.