I don’t usually get swayed by book trailers – in fact, I usually don’t even bother watching them – but this one for “It’s A Book” by Lane Smith, posted by a friend on Facebook, caught and kept my attention.
It looked to me to be a bit like “Go The F**k to Sleep”, minus the profanities – a book that looks like a kids’ picture book but is really pitched at the adults. And it looked very cute and funny.
So I decided to go online book shopping. Most of my reading material these days is in e-book form, but whenever a tree book is called for, I find myself more often than not shopping on www.bookdepository.com.
Book Depository ships to anywhere in the world for free, which usually makes it cheaper for Antipodeans than purchasing off Amazon. I don’t know how they manage to do that and still make money, though. Somebody told me recently that they can sell books so cheaply because they don’t pay author royalties, but my naïve little brain refused to believe or comprehend that. How can that even be legal? If any readers can conclusively confirm or deny that rumour, I’d love to know.
It would be a shame if that were true, because then I’d be morally obliged to never shop there again, and then I’d miss out on this oddly compelling feature of their website – Book Depository Live.
Book Depository Live shows a map of the world. Little flags pop up all over the globe to tell you what book has just been ordered from which country.
Two things struck me while watching it. One -a disproportionate number of books are being purchased by Australian and New Zealand residents. That could just be because of the time zone (the rest of the world is sleeping or working while we’re buying books), or it could be because of the free shipping. Books are freaking expensive Down Under compared to many other countries. No wonder our bricks-and-mortar stores are struggling when they can order books shipped from the UK for cheaper (and yes, I do feel a little guilty for not shopping locally, thanks for asking…).
And two – the Age of Information, the Internet and Print On Demand technology makes those obscure niche market titles that much more viable. While I was watching, someone in Japan bought “Glee for Ukelele”. Or maybe music books for ukulele are huge sellers, not niche titles at all, and I’ve just been living in a cave.
I’m going to conduct a real time experiment. The time in Australia is now 10.40am. For the next ten minutes, I will list all the orders on Book Depository Live that strike me as niche titles. Ready, set…go.
Someone in the United Kingdom bought “Crystal Ball Reading for Beginners”. According to Book Depository, other people who bought this book also bought Jane Austen Tarot cards and “So You Want to Be a Psychic Intuitive?”
Someone in Finland bought “Harmony for Computer Musicians”.
Someone in the USA bought “Kunststricken: Schöne alte Blütenmuster”. According to Google Translate, the title is a) misspelt and b) means “Beautiful Vintage Floral Design”. If you had a juvenile sense of humour, you’d be thinking of something else entirely.
Someone in Chile bought “60 Quick Baby Knits”. Knitting for quick babies? 60 different ways to knit your own baby, quickly?
Someone in Australia bought “The Book of Skulls”. Actually, this looks pretty cool. The description says this: “The skull is one of the recognizable symbols of contemporary visual culture. Packaged in an amazing ‘skeleton’ binding and drawing together artwork from music, fashion, street art and graphic design, The Book of Skulls is a celebration of one of today’s most iconic cultural symbols.” My eight year old has a skull fascination – maybe I should put this one on my Christmas shopping list…
Someone in Belgium bought “Palpation Techniques: Surface Anatomy for Physical Therapists”.
And…ten minutes are up. See? Told you it was a fun way to spend a Friday night.