Date - 16 July, 2012 - The Age - Mark Rubbo
Bookshops have been a crucial element in this achievement.
Australia has been the envy of English-language publishers because of the strength and diversity of its book retailing. Independent and privately owned bookshops have championed creative and innovative publishing and writing and helped create a wider market for works. But the bookselling landscape has changed radically over the last three years. The Australian dollar has appreciated significantly against the currencies of the US and Britain, ebooks are a serious alternative to print books, and Australia's largest book retailer, RED Group, owner of Borders and Angus and Robertson, collapsed at the beginning of last year.
Prior to RED Group's collapse, Australian book retailers, like most other retailers, were experiencing declining sales exacerbated by the rise of ebooks and the assault by offshore internet booksellers. Aided by the strong dollar, the ability to avoid GST, and subsidised postal rates, online booksellers garnered a considerable share - about 20 per cent - of the Australian print market.
Until a few years ago ebooks were a novelty with a minimal market share, but in the US they now account for about 20 per cent and sales are growing while print sales decline. Australia has lagged behind but is fast catching up. In both Australia and the US, ebook sales are dominated by Amazon and the ingenious yet restrictive Kindle. It is impossible to know what Amazon's ebook or Kindle sales are in Australia but Australian publishers willing to talk report them having more than 80 per cent market share. In addition, Amazon does not have to charge GST on the ebooks it sells, giving it a huge competitive advantage over Australian sellers of ebooks. In 2011, according to Nielsen Bookscan figures, print book sales in Australia declined by 12.6 per cent to $1.078 billion. Much of this decline was due to the closure of the RED Group and its ramifications have been very serious for Australian publishers who have stopped publishing certain types of books; just recently Penguin Australia closed a publishing division because without RED Group's Angus & Robertson to work with, the books were no longer viable.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/future-for-writers-and-publishers-linked-to-bookselling-20120715-2242y.html#ixzz20k2oGToG