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New Steve Waugh book to be sold exclusively through BIG W, Woolworths; industry responds

A new book by former Australian cricketer Steve Waugh will be sold exclusively through BIG W and selected Woolworths supermarkets from 15 August.

The Meaning of Luck: Stories of Learning, Leadership and Love is being self-published by Waugh, whose previous autobiography Out of My Comfort Zone was published by Penguin in 2006 and sold over 230,000 copies. Waugh told Books+Publishing that he is working on the book with editor and publisher Geoff Armstrong, who has worked with Waugh on each of his previous books, including Out of My Comfort Zone. ‘Geoff has been in the publishing industry for more than twenty years, as an author, editor and publisher,’ said Waugh. ‘He is well connected and was able to form a brilliant publishing team.’

A spokesperson for BIG W parent company Woolworths Limited told Books+Publishing that Waugh approached BIG W with the book and the company felt ‘it was a great opportunity given his popularity and the enthusiasm for his previous work, including his autobiography’. ‘It’s very proudly Steve’s book and his team has taken the lead on bringing the title to fruition with input from BIG W,’ said the spokesperson. 

‘This is my thirteenth book, so self-publishing seemed like a natural extension after writing and experiencing the process of constructing twelve books,’ said Waugh. ‘I am very keen for as many people as possible to learn about The Meaning of Luck, and after plenty of research, I came to the conclusion that the best way to achieve this was to join forces with the company that over the past few years has sold more sports books than any other outlet. Working with BIG W gives me the chance to produce an innovative, quality book. Being involved in every part of the publishing process is a personal challenge and gives me a sense of ownership over my book that I have never felt in the past.’

Waugh described the partnership with BIG W as ‘a natural fit’. ‘BIG W is one of the biggest booksellers in the country—they certainly sold many copies of my autobiography, more than any other store—and I know book-lovers flock to their aisles,’ said Waugh. 

The price for The Meaning of Luck is yet to released, but the Woolworths spokesperson said that it ‘will be in keeping with BIG W’s commitment to provide our customers with Australia’s lowest prices’. An ebook edition of the book will also be available, with further details expected to be released about the ebook closer to publication.

The full list of Woolworths stores that will sell the book has not been released. However, the spokesperson said that The Meaning of Luck will be available from Woolworths stores ‘in areads where a BIG W store might be further away’, such as the Woolworths store at Sydney Town Hall. The book will be available at all BIG W stores. 

It is not clear how long BIG W and Woolworths will have exclusive access to The Meaning of Luck. ‘Where the book is sold in the future is something Steve and the team here will discuss but certainly the only place you will be able to buy The Meaning of Luck in the run up to Christmas will be BIG W and selected Woolworths stores,’ said the spokesperson.

The new book will also be available as a signed, leather-bound corporate edition, which includes a bonus ‘Ashes’ chapter, via Waugh’s website.

Industry responds
President of the Australian Booksellers Association (ABA) and managing director of Australian Library Services Patricia Genat described Waugh’s decision to work exclusively with BIG W and Woolworths as ‘disappointing’, telling Books+Publishing that Waugh has missed an opportunity to ‘harness the amazing selling power of the bookselling community—indies, chains and franchise booksellers, who have supported Waugh in selling through all of his previous bestselling books’.

While Genat said that ‘of course Steve Waugh—as a self-publisher—is free to make the arrangements he wants’, she said the ABA ‘encourage[s] all authors to be conscious of being inclusive rather than exclusive in their marketing approach to Australian readers’. ‘A deal like this effectively excludes sixty percent of the book buying market,’ said Genat.

Literary agent Mary Cunnane told Books+Publishing that Waugh’s deal with BIG W and Woolworths ‘could be a major game-changer’ but only for ‘a very few authors’. ‘In bypassing traditional publishing and booksellers—including presumably online retailers—Waugh is jumping through two hoops at once,’ said Cunnane.

‘But this initiative is hardly a paradigm for more authors,’ said Cunnane. ‘Only those established “big names”, like Waugh, with massive sales potential would make it worthwhile for BIG W to buy in. It’s hard to see “big name” writerly writers (not celebrities) bypassing bookstores and what traditional publishing offers to go down this route.’

However, Cunnane said ‘down the track, it will be interesting to see how the book will be sold internationally and whether and how it will be made available to libraries’. ‘It’s also unclear what happens after Christmas,’ said Cunnane. 



Category: Local news