Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Haynes Owners Manuals - titles now from only £2 in 'The Works' - Ju 87 Stuka, Battle of Britain Operations Manual, Panzer III - Falconer, Saunders

Best known for their iconic, in-depth auto repair manuals, Haynes of Somerset, England, also offers a series of books which delve into the design, construction, and operation of famous military aircraft.  Their titles on the  Ju 87 Stuka ( Falconer), Spitfire, Battle of Britain Operations (Saunders) and the Flak 88 have been available cheaply in British high street discount retailer 'The Works' for some time. And when I say 'cheaply' - I mean 'cheaply'!

The familiar red and yellow Haynes logo on the front of the company’s hardback books has been around for more than 50 years. The Somerset-based company apparently still makes a lot of money on a format that is relatively unchanged since it first appeared. With a live catalogue of over 1,000 manuals, the company has a presence in 80 countries and 24 languages. Few people could realistically expect to take apart a Spitfire, for which the company produced a manual when it became official publisher to the RAF in 2007 but the company line still applies; “It is a manual, not a coffee table book that happens to contain technical instruction. Well, maybe it’s a combination. You are not going to go out and repair a Spitfire, obviously, but you could with this. It retains that trusted explanation." 

The Spitfire and Ju 87 volumes are just two of a line of similar publications from the Haynes stable.  And now more than ever these manuals are available in retail outlets all over Britain at discounted prices - many aviation titles can be purchased in 'The Works' for just £2. Although some are £3 rising to £5 or even £7. Although these are not discounted books apparently - despite their RRP of £25.

According to Haynes Commissioning Editor Jonathan Falconer they are special print-runs produced exclusively for 'The Works'. There are some that believe that such discounts can only undermine future book production and diminish the 'rewards' available to authors.

To be honest, though - and let's do a bit of straight talking here - Jonathan Falconer presumably still gets his salary/contract payment whomever the Haynes Manuals are printed for and at whatever price point they are sold at. The authors almost certainly won't get the payment they might have expected - if 500 volumes are given away at £2 that's a large royalty the author will miss out on. According to one insider, who worked in book sales for ten years, " ..my understanding is the print runs of the Haynes titles that 'The Works' order are around the 20,000 copies mark, that's a massive inducement to ANY company..."

Most print runs these days are sourced out to either Singapore, Hong Kong, mainland China or Taiwan and this has been the case for a long time. It must be certainly a big factor in Haynes profit margins (£3 million in 2017 on revenues of £30 million). One assumes Haynes still makes money on these titles - even new books - like the 'Buccaneer' book produced by Keith Wilson (yes, at the time of writing available for just £3 in 'The Works') and the Flak 88 title were only released relatively recently.  My point is - don’t blame the consumer/reader for wanting to take advantage of these deals. And spare a thought for the  independent book retailers, who, even as a collective, do not have the buying power to order the numbers and thereby get the discount that 'The Works' gets. 

See my 'Jet & Prop' blog for more like this;

UK aviation magazines - why does Key Publishing (have to) own everything ? https://falkeeinsgreatplanes.blogspot.com/2015/03/uk-aviation-magazines-currently-on.html