Outback cattle station photography books

After 17 years of selling unique books featuring the largest cattle stations across Australia – the books have finally sold out as the few remaining have been purchased by the Barkly Roadhouse (in the Northern Territory).

Until website updates are completed (this work will take weeks, as the website is such a beast), it will look like the books are still available for purchase via the website, but unfortunately that is no longer the case.

The 3 books were published in 2005, 2009 & 2015 and I personally signed thousands of copies and mailed them to purchasers all over the world.

I love publishing books; it was something I’d wanted to do since in primary school. It is however a very tough thing to succeed at – and that has always been the case, since book publishing was invented. A few points:

  1. My business is so niche it has only been viable thanks to the internet – being able to reach people with very specific interests.
  2. Retailers typically require 50% of the sale price, certainly once freight costs are factored in. Something few consumers are aware of. There’s many pros & cons associated with direct selling vs selling via a retailer. Retailing or going through a major publisher was never going to work for my books; but direct selling is insanely time consuming. In recent years my business has involved increasing travel, too, and books couldn’t be sent out when I wasn’t home.
  3. Being a niche market means it is a very small market – only so many people buy books, and only so many of those people are interested in this particular topic.
  4. Publicity is necessary to get enough sales to remain viable. But receiving great recognition also has a downside. For the first few years I had the field all to myself – but then a trickle of similar books appeared and it quickly turned into a flood, as photographers ignored basic supply/demand principles. Many of these publishers would not have covered costs let alone made a profit, as the books they poured countless hours of time into producing ended up being ‘remaindered’ – sold below cost – in Australia Post shops and franchises. ($10/$15 retail each does not come close to covering production costs for these kinds of books.) Gross oversupply killed the market.
  5. Since the Covid 19 pandemic freight costs have skyrocketed. Mailing books to other countries has cost more than the value of the books, over the last couple of years, so it has been subsidised by me. Largely because a) these books have meant a lot to expats & b) these books have meant a lot to parents who’ve mailed them to children living in other countries. I didn’t want to put a stop to that. But domestic and international freight costs have made profitability challenging for all mail order businesses who don’t have multi-million dollar discount arrangements with freight service providers.

I would love to have been able to publish books featuring different regions – for example Queensland’s Channel and Gulf/Peninsula Country plus Western Australia’s Kimberley. Sadly due to the flooded market there became no way these endeavours could cover costs let alone be profitable (IE pay for the time & energy I invested). This was apparent way back in 2015 when I published the book featuring Barkly cattle stations – sadly I knew it would probably have to be the last.

I still have many other ideas for books but it’s doubtful that it will be possible to create them, due to financial realities. But – never say never.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who have parted with hard-earned cash to support the recording of life on the world’s largest cattle stations. Many of the images I’ve been able to collect over the years are now part of history. When I began it wasn’t matching company shirts, helmets, sunglasses and riding along looking at a mobile phone screen – more often on a motorbike not a horse. And there were no other books like mine.

There’s plenty that is good about changes – but plenty to miss, also. If only we could keep the best of the old along with the best of the new.