[LINK] ebook impact on Australian bookstores

Craig Sanders cas at taz.net.au
Thu Aug 12 19:15:43 AEST 2010

On Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 10:22:16AM +1000, Jan Whitaker wrote:
> >RedGroup spokesperson Malcolm Neil says, "We're a sale or return 
> >business. When you are in a tough market everyone has to share the 
> >pain." He adds, "retail across the board is really struggling. 
> >You've got to work harder for every dollar of sales than ever before."

having half-owned and part-run(*) a bookshop several years ago, this is
NOT news.

and the Number One thing that's killing off small and/or independant
bookshops are the chain stores...with their bulk-buying power, they
can sell retail at prices far below what a small bookshop can even buy
wholesale. and the chains include dept/variety stores like myers and
kmart as well as the chain bookstores.

(e.g. i can remember during one of the Harry Potter releases, rushing
out to K-Mart to buy more copies....and they were selling them
significantly cheaper than we could even buy them from the publisher)

but watch this issue being carefully spun into "ebooks are killing
the poor little independant bookshops so feel sorry for us big chain
stores". they're already being killed, the deed's almost done, and it
WASN'T ebooks that did it. but the spin makes the book chains look like
victims rather than perpetrators, and they might even work up enough
sympathy to get some "compensation" for their "loss".

bookshops have become an unnecceary middle-man that do nothing
but add to the price.

eventually, publishers as they exist now, especially large publishers,
will be obsoleted in the same way and for the same reason. they will be
replaced by authors and authors' co-operatives e-publishing directly
(quite a few of the well-known publishers today are like this, or
started like this but with physical object economics rather than
zero-cost-to-copy[1] virtual object economics).

(*) it was mostly my partner's business. she ran it. i did the small
amount of geek-work required to maintain the computers, and helped out
by doing retail shifts and lugging boxes of books about etc.

[1] as with software, the initial production is what costs money (and
time and effort and talent etc). copying costs after that are negligble.
for software, that's programming and testing and Q&A and so on. for
books, it's writing and editing and cover art work and so on.


ps: yes, sadly, bookshops will eventually disappear. and far sooner
than most people think. the exceptions will be second-hand bookshops
(and even they might not survive the inevtiable $2-$3 prices for
"back-catalogue" books) and shops catering to the collector/antiquities

craig sanders <cas at taz.net.au>

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