Bad new travels fast in the bookworld
On the radio today, the major topic was the news that Angus & Robertson and Borders are in the hands of administrators. You do not need to be a mind reader to know this was going to happen.
Australia has forever been at the mercy of the big publishers from the UK & USA having an agreement that artificially limited supply & kept the prices high forcing consumers to pay higher prices for books, these same publishers also saving money by getting books printed offshore. However, that all changed with the advent of the internet, now local book readers and small bookshops to a limited extent can compete with the big guys, until then Australian readers had no way of getting cheap books, always having to pay through the nose for their books, captives of the large publishers. In a truly smart country, everyone needs cheap books.
In the short term
Many people will lose their jobs and some small businesses will go to the wall. If you look around you can see that happening now. Just drive down Hunter street Newcastle or down Pittwater rd Dee Why just to name a few, all you can see is closed shops that fifteen years ago were full of flourishing small businesses but as the Westfield & Marketown and Centro’s gained market share the strip shops lost traffic & ultimately money.
For the future what will happen?
1. We will have to adapt new business models or disappear.
2. Print on demand is growing every day
3. All of the new ibooks, Kindles & other readers will take market share but limited
4. Rare books & 1st editions will always be valuable.
5. Less bookshops in shopping centers as big chains take the place of bookshops.
6. Customers will have to buy books online.
One other item worth mentioning is the role that government plays in the book market. From the tree to the bookshelf, government takes taxes from many different sources. When the customer buys a book in Australia, it must be one of the major costs in that purchase. But when you buy a book from overseas its much cheaper. The reason that it’s cheaper is mostly that the Australian government hasn’t got their grubby little hands on all those steps, and the little guy can get a fair deal rare but true. Gerry Harvey can moan and groan about losing market share to the rest of the world but, he didn’t care about knocking out little Australian business entrepreneurs.
How will it affect ozzbooks?
At Lake Macquarie Secondhand Books, we have already felt the effects of this shake up but to an extent our size is an advantage our business is in the growth phase. We don’t have the huge costs associated with running franchise operations and all the inherent difficulties. Our business is able to react daily to our customers needs; it’s not a behemoth slow to react to the needs of new generations of customers. Our business is about finding and supplying books for our customers and friends.
A good book to read about book publishers in Australia is a title called Paper Empires by Craig Munro, & Roby Sheahan-Bright,
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