From The Guardian:
Since 1985, Polyester has sold books with a punk sensibility, including a wide range of bizarro Manga comics. But as Brunswick Street goes alternative-lite, making room for artificially distressed cafes and expensive ‘vintage’ clothing stores, Polyester announced this week that it is turning off its neon lights for good.
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Rents are high, gentrification is rife, and new business models of book distribution continue to disrupt the industry. On Tuesday, Amazon-owned online book retailer the Book Depository announced it was taking its first big step into the Australian market, adding more than 25,000 Australian titles to its inventory, including classic, contemporary, food and educational titles.
In a move that was foreshadowed in 2014, the company says it will ship books nationally and internationally from Australia for free, using a third-party logistics company in Melbourne to pack and send orders.
Group marketing director of Book Depository, Chris Mckee, explained in a press release: “Previously, we’ve had titles from Australian authors once they become available internationally, and what we’re going to have now are titles from Australian authors that become available when they are available in Australia.”
Authors who aren’t represented overseas will now be able to reach an international market, which is great news for those authors and their publishers. Book Depository told Guardian Australia that major publishers were on board, and in a media release quoted Natasha Besliev, CEO of Bonnier Publishing’s Australian business: “We’re looking forward to seeing our home-grown books from The Five Mile Press and Echo Publishing available in this way,” she said.
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And while some publishers and authors may benefit from the expanded reach, for bookstores and competing online retailers, Book Depository’s move into the Australian market signals increased competition.
Australia-based online retailer Booktopia currently has 83% market share of Australian online book sales, shipping four million books a year within Australia for $6.95 a shipment.
“Booktopia is the one company in Australia that has truly prospered and is ready to take on Amazon on Australian soil,” said CEO Tony Nash earlier this week. He referred to the “tumultuous time” bookstores have had in Australia over the past few years, which saw the introduction of ebooks, the collapse of several bricks and mortar stores including Borders and Angus and Robertson, and mooted changes to parallel importation rules, which have traditionally acted as a protective measure of Australian booksellers and authors.
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A good local bookstore is, after all, irreplaceable. They know you, and can recommend titles to suit your taste; they’ll point you in the direction of hot new releases and help you select presents for your friends.
Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Valerie for the tip.
PG has never had the pleasure of traveling to Australia, but his understanding of the nation is that, like the US, it contains many areas that are far from cities and local bookstores are rarities for many people.