The Antipodes has earned its top place through blood, sweat, tears, courage, talent, innovation and endurance against staggering odds over and over again. We inhabitants of the north are guilty of unwarranted and smug elitism.
But they’re stuck at the bottom of our globes and maps, almost as an afterthought, through ancient geographical and cosmological ignorance and petty politics. This artificial positioning encourages unmerited tolerance on their part and an exhibition of blatant snobbery on ours. ‘Down Under’ for the sake of ye gods! With typically easy-going, self-effacing humour and downright good manners, they don’t make a fuss over this in Oz and NZ. But the rest of the world is ‘Up Over’? I think not.
And our Antipodean brothers and sisters get the mucky end of the stick, too, when it comes to the artificially inflated cost of every-day goods – whether imported or home produced. Taxed to the hilt, a couple sharing four jobs and domestic chores to make ends meet ain’t rare.
So (while the world’s upside-down for a wee bit) please excuse Tony, the rest of the BB team, our authors, our readers and me if we’re not exactly leaping in the air with glee at the opening of the new and long-awaited Ingram/Lightning Source print and dispatch base in Melbourne, Australia on Thursday. The base wasn’t so much launched as sprung upon us.
You see, we were sent the contract, conditions and costings charts AFTER the fact and without even a line of official advance notice of the plant’s opening date. This is the courtesy you earn after just over a decade as loyal and good clients of the international print and distribution combine in the brave new 21st Century world of big business. And the LSAus terms are anything but fair dinkum.
Hard to believe that our first LS accounts manager (we contracted the company in its very early days and stuck with them through hard times of their own) used to take an ARC of every BeWrite Books release home with her to read, and then passed editorial comment and critique by us before we gave the green light for print. For her not to send BB at least one personal email a week about progress and development was rare.
And now we’ve been kept so deep in the dark by a new regime that we’re not yet certain if this new Oz deal even plays by the time-honoured rules of cricket. Hold off on popping the corks on those champagne bottles for a wee while Bruces and Sheilas. We might allow bad weather to stop play.
We’ll update this blog in a couple of days when we’ve had time for our legal adviser to check everything out and put in some careful study on a proposal that’s come like a bucket of icy water in the face, like a sneaky googly ball. And it spells in BIG CAPITALS 'significantly increased cover prices' ... up with which, we will not put.
Our well laid and long term plans to immediately set the entire BeWrite Books catalogue and all new titles with LSAus is, perhaps, doable. But it comes at a cost ... to the poor reader, the southern consumer. Yet again, s/he will be cross, possibly even feel double-crossed. My immediate reaction in a note to Tony and some Australian BB author friends yesterday was, “This is not expansion, it’s exploitation.”
Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe I don’t quite understand yet. (At least, our lawyer would suggest I add that disclaimer.) Whatever, this blog post will probably land BB in bad books with Ingram/LS when it does the rounds tonight. Quite honestly, I don't give a wombat's ... and after a long phone chat with Tony, I can assure you that neither does he.
All we’re sure of so far is:
a) this is not what we expected and had been allowed to hope for since the Oz depot was first mooted seven years or so ago
b) we won’t see Australian production for at least two months ... if ever
c) print book lovers will be sorely disappointed
d) we’re struggling to tell our three Rs from our elbows and can’t honestly say which way is up.
Watch this space folks. Fingers southern-crossed.
Never fear, we’re on the case and – one way or t’other – she’ll be right. That’s BeWrite, mates, playing from a square bat. But it’s a bat of old and battered willow and it doesn't take abuse at all kindly.
Bestests. Neil, Tony et al