Riot news from London. All the major stores in in the Clapham area of London were looted, save for the large Waterstones bookstore.
Panic is ensuing among Australian book buyers currently, with the news that Amazon is buying The Book Depository.
Will this mean the end of free postage to Australia. Only time will tell.
Amazon has never opened a branch here in Australia (they have them in Germany, UK, France, US, Canada etc.) so international postage has always been a major economic factor in buying books from them. TBD has free postage, which has seen a very large number of Australian book buyers using their services. If paper books are no longer available with free postage, and most physical bookshops are closed, it will make paper books a rarer commodity than they already are.
A stupid and pointless response to the Small Business Minister’s statement of fact last week, from a bookseller, shows exactly why physical bookshops are going to disappear.
Rather than develop a better business model or to have foreseen the 20 year on-coming of the e-book, the only solutions they have for a failed business is get the government to subsidise them and get the customer to pay more – they must be geniuses in the book industry.
The government – and especially its Small Business Minister – should support the book retail and publishing sectors, which employ more than 20,000 people. It must tackle issues such as the GST’s impact on book prices, and the free delivery of online books from Britain via Australia Post. And it needs to work harder to discourage Australians from buying globally via the web. If the government can’t fix our high dollar, it can certainly remind people of the damaging effects on our economy.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/its-far-too-soon-to-be-writing-the-doomsday-book-minister-20110617-1g7zd.html#ixzz1PaIQNzBA
I mean, really, stop foreign online bookshops from using free delivery, how practical is that a suggestion.
Funnily enough, and not mentioned in the article is the fact that the biggest cost for bookshops and the whole retail sector is for rental of floor space, which is twice what is paid elsewhere in the world. Why do they not campaign about that and keep their businesses going by reducing costs. I suppose because its easier to blame the poor customer and screw them as per usual, and if you can’t continue to screw your customers, better yet, get the government to do it for you.
I would be worried about the future of bookshops if it meant a reduction in the sales or availability of books, but e-books are causing an increase in both.
Australia’s oldest bookshop chain, Angus & Robertson, and Borders Australia have gone into voluntary administration. This could be seen as the end of paper book retailing, if it weren’t for Dymocks and the mighty QBD : The bookshop. Many reasons have been suggested for why bookshops are to close – the strong A$, the rise of the ebook, online retailing, less consumer spending. All these factors have come into play, we should not forget however the role of publishers.
If a bookshop closes in Australia, it is primarily the result of publishers, who will not allow their books to be sold at reasonable prices (market rate), prevent booksellers from buying stock elsewhere, and continuously fleece the bookshop and the reader with their government subsidies in the form of parallel import restrictions.
The publisher is the useless and greedy intermediary between authors and readers, they continue to fleece the author, the retailer and the reader with impunity – and they are doing just as well with DRM, regional licencing etc etc. in the ebook world.
However, having said that:
The cost of getting an overseas published book as shown by Booko (http://booko.com.au/) makes clear that pricing was a bit of an issue.