• Enjoy the freedom to innovate and grow your business


    [ad] With Microsoft Azure you have hybrid cloud flexibility, allowing your platform to span your cloud and on premise data centre. Learn more at microsoftcloud.com.

  • IT Admin: No Time to Save Time?


    [ad] Do you spend too much time patching machines or cleaning up after virus attacks? With automation controlled from a central IT management console accessible anytime, anywhere – you can save time for bigger tasks. Try simple IT management from GFI Cloud and start saving time today!

  • Free Forrester analysis of CRM solutions


    [ad] In this 25 page report, independent analyst house Forrester evaluates 18 significant products in the customer relationship management space from a broad range of vendors, detailing its findings on how CRM suites measure up and plotting where they stand in relation to each other. Download it for free now.

  • Great articles on other sites
  • RSS Great articles on other sites


  • Reader giveaway: Google Nexus 5


    We’re big fans of Google’s Nexus line-up in general at Delimiter towers. Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 … we love pretty much anything Nexus. Because of this we've kicked off a new competition to give away one of Google’s new Nexus 5 smartphones to a lucky reader. Click here to enter.

  • Opinion - Written by on Monday, August 9, 2010 11:19 - 14 Comments

    Are online + eBook retailers killing small bookshops?

    Darryl Adams is a government worker and internet tragic. A former IT worker, he still pines for the days of IBM keyboards that go CRUNCH and the glow of green screens. He can be found on on Twitter or on Facebook. Check out his site oz-e-books.com for more articles about e-book readers, retailers, formats and news (or will have when Darryl can be drawn away from reading Delimiter). The views expressed here do not reflect the views of his employer, the ATO.

    opinion Recently I attended the local discussion group at local science fiction and fantasy book retailer Infinitas Bookstore. Only three people turned up (maybe because of winter) and we ended up discussing book selling with the owner, Tim.

    To be honest, I was shocked at the negative information I was getting from Tim about his business, which is a major player in the SFF book scene and has been around since 1991.

    I ended up asking him to tell me how many books I have bought recently. This was easy as Tim runs a loyalty programme. Two times a year, for each $150 people spend at the store, each customer gets a $10 voucher. I have managed up to 4 vouchers for a 6 month period, and I was a bit shocked that I was still below the first $150 threshold. And that was with a $50 hardcover I was picking up this time.

    Are eBooks part of the problem? I would have to say yes. I am still buying books, and willing to buy hardcovers, but I am more choosy in what I buy. That is not to say I solely read eBooks, and some of the eBooks had me also go out and buy the dead tree edition of the books (The Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint and Dave Freer Heirs of Alexandria series being the latest series I have paid for in eBook, Electronic Advanced Reader Copy and the paper version. Yes I am strange).

    However, I have been less willing to purchase books in the traditional paper version unless I have read at least one of an authors works in eBook format.

    But the market is changing in other ways too. Local publishing houses don’t care about the little stores. One anecdote Tim told us was that he had ordered from the local publisher a particular media tie-in book. When it failed to arrive, Tim called and found out the books were re-routed to a large retail chain. However, the books where on back order and Tim was still required to purchase the books, even though the sales had disappeared (why wait when you can go to K-Mart?).

    Online sellers are not helping either. When Book Depository can ship a book free to Australia from the UK, and at a steep discount to the local price, even booksellers would have to question why they should source the book locally when they can pull out a credit card and order it from the UK.

    And the local price is high. One anecdote Tim told me about local and imported books from the USA. I have decided not to write about it as it may bring distributor pressure, and the last thing I want to do is cause more grief for Tim, despite the fact parallel importing is totally legal.

    However, Dave Freer has told me that he finds Australian books more expensive than South African books, and JD over Bookbee.com has an article on Australian publishers ignoring eBooks.

    In addition, despite my opinion and the prevailing political belief that the economy has recovered, sales of books have dropped considerably. Tim has reduced staff and working hours in order to survive, and even he fears that his actions may not be enough. Other specialist book stores around Sydney have closed in the last couple of years, and large chains like Barnes and Noble are suffering in the US (the company recently announced it was going on the market).

    Between the instant gratification of buying eBooks, overseas companies being able to sell books cheaper than in Australia, bone-headed Australian publishers and the economy, are we all forming an axis of evil against local book retail? I am a fan of Infinitas and have been a long term buyer there. However, I may be also part of the forces trying to kill it. And that, I find, is disturbing.

    Image credit: Amazon

    submit to reddit

    14 Comments

    You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

    1. DrFriendless
      Posted 09/08/2010 at 12:26 pm | Permalink |

      Just down the road from where I work is a no-name discount bookseller who’s selling classics, e.g. Jane Austen, for $6.95. That’s about as cheap as books get in Australia. I can buy exactly the same book on-line for $4, with free shipping. My son wanted “High Fidelity” which was $29 at Angus & Robertson – I bought it on-line for $10.50. I’d be insane to buy at a real book shop. I love books, but book shops are dead.

    2. Posted 09/08/2010 at 4:09 pm | Permalink |

      Tim from Infinitas just sent an email out saying he is putting the business up for sale.

      This is a blow to me, since I have been going to Infinitas since the mid 1990′s.

      However, Tim has shown that the forces against him and others like him are maybe too much to bare.

    3. Ben
      Posted 09/08/2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink |

      I was a loyal customer of both my local store and Galaxy books. I rarely shop at either any more, and the factor in this wasn’t eBooks but The Book Depository. My parochialism could only last so long againsy heavily discounted books shipped for free. Everyone I know who is a book lover buys their products there.
      I was really disappointed when the government ignored the productivity comissions recommendations, bowed to lobby pressure from the local industry and rejected allowing parallel imports. The local music industry didn’t collapse – why would the bookk industry?

    4. Posted 10/08/2010 at 12:39 am | Permalink |

      Dave might have a heart attack if he came to Adelaide.

      A crappy Borders that is the most expensive bookshop on the planet.

      An ok Dymocks.

      An absolutely pathetic shell Angus and Robertson.

      And no SF shop left of course, thanks to the three former….

    5. Posted 10/08/2010 at 12:45 am | Permalink |

      And Ben, you are right.

      If money is all that matters to them, that is keeping prices high on mostly foreign product – why shouldn’t we just buy the foreign product directly and save lots of money? Certainly the economically rational, capitalist and conservative thing to do.

      There’s certainly no chance I buy any new dead tree books in Australia ever again thanks to attitudes like that.

    6. Ben
      Posted 10/08/2010 at 2:59 pm | Permalink |

      Hey Blue Tyson – I recognise your handle – I’m Eventine over at sffworld. I had a sook about this in a thread there too :-)

      Cheers,
      Ben

    7. Posted 10/08/2010 at 3:06 pm | Permalink |

      Hi Ben. It just amuses me now.

      No ebooks for here, because we don’t want to…

      No letting small shops survive and sell our books because we don’t want to…

      No allowing easier importing because we don’t want to…

      So we know what our answer would be when they complain no-one is buying their stuff. :)

    8. Kevin H
      Posted 11/08/2010 at 6:27 pm | Permalink |

      Darryl, people don’t buy eBooks for instant gratification, they buy eBooks because it is convenient to do so, they weigh nothing and are considerably cheaper than printed books.

      • Posted 12/08/2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink |

        Then why did I pay US$15 for an eArc of “Cryoburn”, and then will buy the hardcover (A$50 proberbly) ….instant gratification baby!

    9. Posted 11/08/2010 at 10:16 pm | Permalink |

      C’mon, instant gratification counts.

      Ooh, shiny new book… gotta minute… click! download… READING

      I absolutely love being able to buy books almost immediately online. Before that, the closest I got to instant gratification was a 3-hour drive each way to the bookshops in Adelaide.

      (In the ongoing saga Reconnecting With Blue Tyson, I’m also Clytie on MobileRead. ;) )

    10. Bernice
      Posted 12/08/2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink |

      Have to offer a correction here – its often reported that Book Depository heavily discounts off the UK retail price. As far as I can establish, in most cases, its around 10-12% at the most. Discounts are higher on lead titles, but Book Depository would be negotiating high discount from publishers on those plus willing to use them as loss leaders, they’re not doing anything particularly different from Oz based chains.

      What is different is the wholesaling arrangements that UK retailers, high street or online, can access whilst their Aust equivalents are largely forced to use distribution models that are both wildly inefficient and effectively tariff protected via PIRs. The wholesale price that a UK bookseller may pay for a book (and this is almost always true of academic titles) is lower than the Australian distributor will pay the originating publisher in the UK for the same book. Then shipping, fees, warehousing and re-selling the book has to be added – bingo! – much much higher wholesale prices in the Aust market.

      Being a damned long way from anywhere else has helped to keep online resellers at bay – until Book Depository’s model came along – but they are not heavily discounting. They are selling out of a market that has lower book prices because of stronger competitive pressures and more efficient distribution models. And as for the general 10% or so discount – they dont have shopfronts, making their overheads much lower than a bricks and mortar bookseller.

      If Aust distributors and the Aust booksellers forced to depend upon them want to survive they need to adopt the use of POD instead of demanding the retention of tariffs – inefficiency will kill Aust distribution and bookselling, not the Book Depository.

      • Posted 12/08/2010 at 4:57 pm | Permalink |

        Australian distributers are owned by Australian publishers. There is a strong business model to be ineficiant here.

        In the US, this is not the case, and you can parraelle import a book here and still be cheaper than the aussie distributer, including air postage GST on the final sale.

        Book Depository has the advatage that Royal Mail is better by far than the US Mail, and that Australia Post is up there as well. Still, when I can by an Aussie author’s book for less than $9 with free postage, something is rotten in Denmark…..

    11. Posted 12/08/2010 at 7:28 pm | Permalink |

      Hopefully in Denmark they can use The Book Depository too. :)

    12. Rachel
      Posted 13/08/2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink |

      Australian distributors may be owned by Australian Publisher (or their UK parent), but distribution on international titles is their main business, simply because the local publishing business is not big enough.
      Bernice is right, Australian distributors are buying at the same or slightly better price as UK wholesalers. Shipping is a major cost and of course warehousing, and then offering Sale or Return terms to Australian retailers.
      Additionally part of the argument of maintaining copyright in our own territory is that Australian authors’ incomes remian protected. Selling rights is a big part of an authors income, and if you can’t sell rights in your own country, where do you start?




    Get our 'Best of the Week' newsletter on Fridays

    Just the most important stories, one email a week.

    Email address:


  • Most Popular Content


  • Six smart secrets for nurturing customer relationships
    [ad] Today, we are experiencing a world where behind every app, every device, and every connection, is a customer. Your customers will demand you to be where they and managing customer relationship is the key to your business’s growth. The question is where do you start? Click here to download six free whitepapers to help you connect with your customers in a whole new way.
  • Enterprise IT stories

    • Greens claim NSW LMBR project turning into a disaster sydney

      The NSW Greens late last week claimed to have obtained documents showing that the NSW Department of Education and Communities’ wide-ranging Learning Management and Business Reform program, which involves a number of rolling upgrades of business administration software, was deployed before it was ready, with “appalling consequences for administrative staff, principals, teachers and students”.

    • NSW Govt trials inter-truck safety devices trucks-cohda

      The New South Wales Government has inked a contract with connected vehicle technology supplier Cohda Wireless, as part of a trial of so-called Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) which allow heavy vehicles to communicate directly with each other about their position on the road to help reduce road accidents.

    • Victoria finally kills $180m Ultranet disaster thumbsdown1

      The Victorian Government has reportedly terminated its disastrous Ultranet schools portal, which ballooned in cost to $180 million over the past seven years but ended up being barely used by the education stakeholders it was supposed to serve.

    • NetSuite in whole of business TurboSmart deal turbosmart

      Business-focused software as a service giant NetSuite has unveiled yet another win with a mid-sized Australian company, revealing a deal with automotive performance products manufacturer Turbosmart that has seen the company deploy a comprehensive suite of NetSuite products across its business.

    • WA Health told: Hire a goddamn CIO already doctor

      A state parliamentary committee has told Western Australia’s Department of Health to end four years of acting appointments and hire a permanent CIO, in the wake of news that the lack of such an executive role in the department contributed directly to the fiasco at the state’s new Fiona Stanley Hospital, much of which has revolved around poorly delivered IT systems.

    • Former whole of Qld Govt CIO Grant resigns petergrant

      High-flying IT executive Peter Grant has left his senior position in the Queensland State Government, a year after the state demoted him from the whole of government chief information officer role he had held for the second time.

    • Hills dumped $18m ERP/CRM rollout for Salesforce.com hills

      According to a blog post published by Salesforce.com today, one of Ted Pretty’s first moves upon taking up managing director role at iconic Australian brand Hills in 2012 was to halt an expensive traditional business software project and call Salesforce.com instead.

    • Dropbox opens Sydney office koalabox

      Cloud computing storage player Dropbox has announced it is opening an office in Sydney, as competition in the local enterprise cloud storage market accelerates.

    • Heartbleed, internal outages: CBA’s horror 24 hours commbankatm

      The Commonwealth Bank’s IT division has suffered something of a nightmare 24 hours, with a catastrophic internal IT outage taking down multiple systems and resulting in physical branches being offline, and the bank separately suffering public opprobrium stemming from contradictory statements it made with respect to potential vulnerabilities stemming from the Heartbleed OpenSSL bug.

    • Android in the enterprise: Three Aussie examples from Samsung androidapple

      Forget iOS and Windows. Today we present three decently sized deployments of Android in the Australian market on Samsung’s hardware, which the Korean vendor has dug up from its archives over the past several years for us after a little prompting :)

  • Enterprise IT, News - Apr 23, 2014 15:58 - 4 Comments

    Greens claim NSW LMBR project turning into a disaster

    More In Enterprise IT


    Blog, Telecommunications - Apr 24, 2014 14:00 - 11 Comments

    iiNet to splurge $350m on content, media

    More In Telecommunications


    Analysis, Industry - Apr 24, 2014 16:05 - 0 Comments

    Free to fail: Why corporates are learning to love venture capital

    More In Industry


    Blog, Digital Rights - Apr 23, 2014 12:57 - 35 Comments

    Cinema execs blame piracy for $20 ticket prices

    More In Digital Rights