I became aware of the effect that a rising or falling Canadian dollar could have on my life pretty young. Yes, there were a couple of trips to Florida which had parents grumbling about how they were getting murdered on the exchange rates. But I was mostly aware of it - surprise, surprise - through comic books.
One bright and sunny morning I went to the local corner store to see if there were any new comics in. It was there that I discovered that the prices had gone up...but only in Canada. It was still 50 cents US, but it now cost 60 cents to buy a comic in Canada, which I thought was pretty darn unfair. This was a trend that continued for years with the gap between the US price and the Canadian prices steadily increasing.
It pissed me off. It pissed off a lot of comic book collectors, especially since the companies seem to react awfully quick to jack up the prices in Canada when the exchange rate grew between the two countries, and awfully slow when the rate shrank.
I understand people in England have similar gripes.
It's why I found Link in the Toronto Star about the book expo this weekend interesting. Obvious a lot of Canadians are getting pretty damn upset about the difference in exchange rates, especially since the price differential is becoming grotesque. Book sellers are getting it full blast. Hopefully they're passing it on to the publishers.
I enjoy the excuses, by the way, that companies didn't see the soaring Canadian dollar a year ago. Maybe, but you certainly had an idea it was coming. It was still around 80 cents or more and the exchange rate they're charging is a damn bit more than that.
How bad is it? I took a look at three recent hardcovers I bought - Fall of Knight by Peter David, A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore and Jpod by Douglas Coupland. All retail for $24.95 US. Using a 10% exchange rate, they ought to cost about $27.50 Canadian. Hell, ever using a 20% exchange rate, they ought to cost about $30.
Fall of Knight and A Dirty Job both cost $32.95. Jpod is $34.95.
Yes, I get a discount through Chapters, which is the only reason I bought the books. If they were actually that much, I doubt I would have bought them. But still, there is a definite "we're getting gypped here" vibe. And again, funny how it takes a long time for the publishers to react when the exchange rate is shrinking than when it is falling.
Comic books, just for the record, are getting the same amount of flack. There was a recent interview with Marvel's Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada who said that price relief was coming "soon" for Canadian collectors. We'll see. I imagine it won't happen until the fall either, which is lull period in the comic industry after a busy summer.
Yes, it's business and I should get use to it. But that still doesn't mean I have to like it. Furthermore, it's only going ot change on new editions. I imagine the same outrageous price difference is going to remain on books published over the last year or so, but are still sitting on shelves. So the screwing is good for many more months to come.
And, you know I have a lot of stuff I haven't gotten around to reading yet. Might be time for me to take a bit of a break from buying new reading material for a couple of months. If we all did that, I wonder if the prices would magically drop a bit faster?