I have to pay how much to be Canadian??

So if you’re Canadian you’ve spent your whole life paying a larger dollar amount for printed goods than Americans do. This was never an issue, as our dollar was worth much less than the US greenback. It all worked out the same in the end. We bought our magazines for 5 dollar, 6.50 in Canada, our books for 14.95, 17.95 in Canada and we never complained. That’s just the way it is. That 17.95 Canadian was about the same as 14.95 US due to the exchange rate.

So now the Canadian dollar is worth more than the US buck (1.10 this morning when I looked). As the American leadership spirals their country (and thus the world) into an economic distress the likes of which I don’t think the world’s ever seen before, Canadian citizens get to win for a bit, as our strong dollar makes for cheap cross border shopping and in general lower prices on things. However, one group that doesn’t seem to notice this dollar difference is book publishers and book sellers. The publishers I can understand…there’s probably a several month turn around in publishing/print runs and it makes sense for them to not change the pricing page or jacket print templates until things stabilize a bit (which concievably may never happen). IF there were a sudden turn around, and pricing hadn’t changed on published books out in the market, they actually stand to take a big hit. As it stands right now tho, they could actually make more money off of Canada.

But the book sellers…shame on you. You are the last line before the consumers and you have the power to influence wholesalers to lower prices to points that make sense. I can’t believe for a second that a company with the buying power of Chapters/Indigo is unable to pressure publishers to price things fairly. And I also can’t believe that they see so little value in their customers that they don’t take steps to make book buying make sense. If, like me, you read alot, this price difference is a huge hit. 30% more money PLUS the 10% on the dollar means that I overpay for every book and magazine that I buy by 37%. Even stores like London Drugs who discounts every book they sell, only discount by 15%…which means I still pay 22% too much. For a five dollar novel this doesn’t mean much…but for an 80 dollar reference manual that adds up pretty quickly.

Last weekend Chapters put out a full page ad in the Globe and Mail stating that they buy from Canadian publishers at Canadian prices. Again…are you telling me that the largest book store in the country by a massive amount is unable to negotiate prices down to a reasonable level? They then go on to say in their ad that they are offering discounts up to 30 and 40% on some books. So…wait…let me get this straight: The evil Canadian publishers won’t discount for your tiny little business so you’d lose money by selling at US prices, yet you’ll do it for some books at your discretion? I dunno…i’m gonna go out on a limb and call bullshit here…

I was in an Indigo books recently buying non-book stuff (they sell some little storage items etc) and I asked the cashier how they plan on dealing with the dollar difference. The response was a blank stare… and then he proceeded to explain to me that if I buy from Chapters online I can save a few percent. Now, this wasn’t a 17 year old student in his first job who just doesn’t care for 8 bux an hour, it was an adult lower management type. I couldn’t believe the lack of concern this guy had. Not for me, but for his own self…if no one buys books in his store cuz it’s not making sense to do so, his income gets hurt directly. I dunno maybe I’m the only one who cares. Maybe I’m the only person who spends 50 bux a month or more on reading material. Add up your ‘people’ magazines and stuff and see what your total is…I can’t imagine it’s much less than 50 bux unless you barely read at all. Maybe I’m just plain cheap.

However, I don’t think that I’m the only one who thinks this way. I think I heard recently recently that Book Warehouse is selling all their books at the American price. If that’s true, Yay Book Warehouse!!! Book Warehouse is a smaller chain here in Vancouver (I dunno if they go outside this city or not…I’ve never seen one elsewhere) that sells alot of publishers’ seconds, overstock, returned and other flawed product that they can discount. Their standard discount is 20%, and if they happen to have a specific book I’m looking for, I will try and buy it there instead of Chapters. Not all of their books are discounted, but alot of them are. The problem is that Book Warehouse is much smaller than Chapters/Indigo, and I gotta say that sometimes I like browsing around a bookstore for new and interesting things. Sometimes Book Warehouse just doesn’t carry some things, although I’m sure you could order it (just without the discount). Anyways…good on them for thinking of the customer and taking steps to not only keep customers shopping in their stores, but bring new customers in and make them loyal. One comment about book warehouse…the staff at every one of them I’ve been inside loves reading and books and have monstrous knowledge of titles and authors. It’s almost like a boutique hardcore book geek shop, except its a mainstream chain. In the old days they had TV commercials and their head cheese played the tuba on them…but that’s a whole other story…

Anyways…as a reader, I’m pissed and frustrated with Canadian booksellers. I don’t care if it’s the publisher, the retailer or the government…as a reader I just want a fair price. So there.


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