Special Bulletin
15 December 2017

 

Pre-Christmas survey 2017: Sales stable for local indie and chain booksellers x

Christmas sales are tracking at similar levels to last year for the majority of booksellers (65%), with more stores (22%) reporting a decrease in sales than an increase (14%). The results are nearly identical to last year, when 63% of booksellers reported similar sales, 24% reported a decrease and 13% reported an increase. These two years of steady sales come after a stronger than expected pre-Christmas period in 2015, when 80% of all stores surveyed reported a rise in sales.

This year Books+Publishing received feedback from representatives of almost 150 independent, online and chain bookshops around Australia.

Nearly four out of every five bookstores surveyed (79%) reported that sales so far are close to their expectations, which reflects the majority of stores tracking at similar sales to last year. Sales are worse than expected for 13% of stores surveyed, and eight percent of bookstores are selling better than expected.

Overall, booksellers seem cautiously optimistic about the selling season, with many hoping the big rush in the last week of sales will make up for a sluggish start in November. One Melbourne indie bookseller captured the mood of a lot of booksellers: ‘My theory is that the organised shoppers of the past, who were early to buy, are the people shopping online,’ the bookseller said. ‘They know what they want and have plenty of time. So I think November sales are never going to go back to the heady days of the past.’

One Tasmanian indie bookseller reported their store experienced ‘a good lead up in November’. ‘November’s figures were up on last year—partly helped by very good author events. But even without them, I was pleased with the month,’ the bookseller said. ‘December is so far a little behind, but the way the calendar works out people think they have the full week before Christmas’.

Several booksellers also mentioned using events and other promotions to boost sales. ‘We have had some pop-up stores and more events than last year and still about the same so far,’ said one Queensland-based bookseller. ‘So we’re working harder for [the] same result.’ Another indie thankful for the sales boost from events reported ‘no trend or general build-up for general sales’ in their West Australian shop. ‘We have continued with in-store events later than normal, and with the planned VIP nights, it has bought some welcome sales numbers,’ the bookseller said.

Periods of wet and hot weather may have dented the start to the selling season for Melbourne bookstores. Tim White from Books for Cooks said trade in Melbourne is slightly down. ‘Two weeks of bad weather (heat and then rain) have had an effect,’ White said. Similarly, Readings’ Mark Rubbo said: ‘The timing of Christmas Day this year and the hot and wet spell in Melbourne the week before last has had an impact’.

A couple of stores that have had disappointing years said Christmas looked to be following that same trend. ‘It has been a very slow start for Christmas for us, following a year in which we have been down in sales all year,’ reported one Melbourne store, while another in Western Australia said it had been a ‘disappointing start to December but previous months were also poor’.

‘All year we have been behind in sales, but I have no particular knowledge of why, other than retail in general is down,’ said one Victorian indie.

Christmas rush slow to start

For the second year in a row, the majority of booksellers (62%) are reporting a later-than-usual Christmas rush. It’s down slightly on last year, when 79% reported the rush was later than usual, with more stores reporting that the rush is about the same as last year (31%, up from 17%) and six percent reporting the rush is earlier (up from four percent).

Sophie Higgins from Dymocks said: ‘The real lift was not felt until 1 December this year for most of the Dymocks store network’. ‘After 15 December we expect an even bigger boost as those precious book gifts can no longer be reliably bought online,’ Higgins said.

Elaine Medhurst from Just Books in Lakes Entrance, Victoria, also noted the impact of online sales on the rush. ‘I thinks it’s internet buying, [we] feel like a last resort,’ said Medhurst. Jon Page from Sydney’s Pages & Pages agreed: ‘With the increase in Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions, the start of Christmas shopping has been pushed back to the beginning of December now’.

One Sydney indie store asserted that the slow start to the season seemed to be true across the retail sector. ‘Several weeks in November all of the local shopping village was quiet … no-one knows where all the customers were!’ the bookseller said.

In Adelaide, there were other factors influencing the timing of the Christmas rush. ‘The key event is the Christmas pageant in Adelaide and that’s been delayed by one week,’ said one bookseller. ‘People have pushed their timelines out by a week.’

Read more from the survey:

 

Nielsen BookScan figures: value and volume up as nonfiction recovers post colouring books x

Sales in the 10 weeks leading up to 9 December 2017 are up four percent in value and 3.7% in volume over the same period in 2016, reports Nielsen BookScan.

‘The book market has seen $8.8m more going through the tills in the lead up to Christmas,’ said Nielsen account executive Louise Goodwin, bringing the 10-week total value sales to $232.7m, up from $223.8m in 2016. Volume has increased to 12.6m units from 12.1m units in 2016 and the average selling price (ASP) has risen marginally by 0.2% to $18.47.

Strong nonfiction sales are driving the overall sales growth, with the category up 9.2% in value and 7.3% in volume. The growth is a partial correction to the significant downturn the category experienced in 2016, due to the drop in adult colouring book sales that year. Children’s fiction continues to grow, although not as significantly as previous years, with sales up 0.7% in value and four percent in volume. Fiction sales, however, declined, with sales down 1.1% in value and 1.4% in volume.

Among the growing categories, Goodwin pointed to Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food (Michael Joseph) and Scott Pape’s The Barefoot Investor (John Wiley) as the two leading nonfiction sellers. Pape’s 2016 title has shown remarkable longevity, as it also appeared in last year’s pre-Christmas bestseller chart in fourth spot. Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (Macmillan) is the only other 2016 release in this year’s top 10.

Sales at the top of the charts are performing very strongly, with the top 10 bestsellers rising 19.8% in volume and 36.8% in value, boosted by an ASP of $21.12, an increase of 14.1% on 2016.

Sales for the top 100 titles also reflect the overall upward trend, albeit to a smaller extent, with volume up 1.4%, value up 2.3% and the ASP up 0.9% to$18.68.

Value sales in the 10-week period also saw a significant increase from 3-9 December due to Nielsen BookScan introducing retailers Book Depository, Fishpond and Australian Geographic into its book sales panel that week.

This year’s chart figures also reflect combined trade and academic book sales figures in 2017 and applied retroactively to 2016, as part of Nielsen’s move to merge the two book sales panels.

While 2017 sales are up on last year, Goodwin did note that 2017’s volume and value are down compared to 2015. ‘However, when we compare against 2014 we can see that 2017 is ahead in value by 2.9% with volume sales in decline by 1.8% over the same 10-week period,’ said Goodwin.

The bestsellers for the past four weeks of sales, according to Nielsen BookScan, are:

  • 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food (Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Getaway (Jeff Kinney, Puffin)
  • The Barefoot Investor (Scott Pape, John Wiley)
  • Bad Dad (David Walliams, HarperCollins)
  • The Midnight Line (Lee Child, Bantam)
  • Working Class Man (Jimmy Barnes, HarperCollins)
  • Guinness World Records 2018 (Guinness World Records)
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (Mark Manson, Macmillan)
  • No One Likes a Fart (Zoe Foster Blake, Viking)
  • Darker (E L James, Arrow).
 

The books: Strong offerings boost booksellers’ confidence x

Most booksellers were pleased with the line-up of books this Christmas, with 71% considering the books on offer ‘strong’, and only three percent considering them ‘disappointing’.

Another 29% considered the line-up ‘moderate’. Booksellers are more confident in the books than they were last year, when 53% considered the line-up strong and 44% considered it moderate.

Many booksellers were pleased to report strong-selling titles across all categories. Natasha Boyd from Book Bonding in Gisbourne, Victoria, said there was ‘something for everyone’. ‘In previous years there has been a lack of adult fiction, year before it was teen—but this year it is strong across the board.’

Several booksellers praised the strong Australian literary fiction offering ‘after a few lean years’. Other booksellers were happy with the number of big-name books. ‘Lots more big-name titles are selling themselves this year, as compared to last year where we seemed to do more hand-selling,’ said Annie Waters from Mostly Books in Adelaide. ‘New Carey, new Flanagan, new Jamie Oliver, new Pullman,’ said Christopher Pearce at Hobart Bookshop. ‘This has been the best Jamie Oliver in a long time—people can actually cook what’s in it.’

Leesa Lambert, from children’s books specialist The Little Bookroom, said ‘late international drop-ins (like Barney, Klassen and Jeffers) are benefiting from the space and timing’, as the big local books were mostly released earlier in the year. ‘Marquee Australian novels have simplified our tiny general fiction selection,’ she said. ‘Nevermoor buzz has penetrated through to the reading community. And Harry continues to find new growth! Very pleased that illustrated hardback middle fiction is being published locally, and gobbled up for Christmas gifts.’

Among the complaints from booksellers was that there was ‘very little to get excited about’. ‘Even the big-name authors (Judy Nunn, Bernard Cornwell to pick two) have releases that customers are just not excited about,’ said one bookseller.

One regional store owner said city-based publishers ‘don’t understand that there’s a market for Australian rural history’ and that not enough Australiana and Australian history titles were being published. ‘There’s too much cricket and football, and not enough interesting biographies (they’re starting to run out of interesting people),’ said the store owner.

Another bookseller complained about ‘way too many animal atlases and Rebel Girl look-alikes this year, which is a pain when you’ve committed to many and customers only want the one main one they keep hearing about’, adding that there wasn’t a great selection of well-written new contemporary fiction reads for adults on holidays. ‘As hand-sellers we are relying on favourites released earlier in the year,’ the bookseller said.

Most mentioned titles

Fiction

  • Force of Nature (Jane Harper, Macmillan)
  • A Long Way Home (Peter Carey, Hamish Hamilton)
  • First Person (Richard Flanagan, Vintage)
  • The Midnight Line (Lee Child, Bantam)
  • The Dry (Jane Harper, Macmillan)

Nonfiction

  • The Barefoot Investor (Scott Pape, John Wiley)
  • Saga Land (Richard Fidler & Kari Gislason, HarperCollins)
  • 5 Ingredients: Quick and Easy Food (Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph)
  • Working Class Man (Jimmy Barnes, HarperCollins)
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (Mark Manson, Macmillan)

Children’s

  • Nevermoor (Jessica Townsend, Hachette)
  • Bad Dad (David Walliams, HarperCollins)
  • Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo, Particular Books)
  • The Getaway: Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Jeff Kinney, Puffin)
  • Here We Are (Oliver Jeffers, HarperCollins)

Non-book items

The Australian Booksellers Association’s ‘Love Your Bookshop’ KeepCups were a hit, with a number of bookstores singling them out as a big non-book seller. Another big-ticket item mentioned was the game Cards against Humanity, with several stores stocking it noting an uptick in sales from their non-book section.

Other games, puzzles and toys are also selling well, as well as book-related items such as bookmarks, book lights and bookends.

‘Dymocks’ sales of gift and stationery items continue to grow. Cards are still far and away the strongest category at Christmas, and anything that just makes the store the one-stop shop for gifts,’ said Sophie Higgins. ‘Stocking fillers like Christmas decorations, kids puzzles and games are also strong sellers.’

Interesting one-off mentions included Zuki and Boo scented candles, Marvis-brand toothpaste and Readerest magnetic glasses holders.

Strong response to catalogues

Most bookstores (90%) had a catalogue this year and most (71%) reported a strong response from customers. Twenty-six percent reported a weak response and just three percent said the response was disappointing.

Jodie Dalglish from Megalong Books in Leura, New South Wales, said the response to their catalogue ‘is always fairly strong’. ‘We’re a small town so a lot of people come in and use it as a shopping list,’ Dalglish said. ‘We normally put it in the local paper but we haven’t done it this year because the people who do pick it up come into the store anyway.’

Lambert said, ‘It has been a particularly helpful resource to distribute to middle-fiction buyers’. ‘It’s a strong year for that audience, plus they keep purchasing once they’re plugged in.’

 

Supply, stock, staff and sales x

Many booksellers reported improved delivery services so far this Christmas, although issues with supply availability, damages and unavailable titles remain a problem for some.

‘It’s been pretty good this year’, said Philip Bray from Brays Books in Balmain, Sydney. ‘Overall the trade has been getting more efficient. We are having two- to three-day turnaround on orders.’ Bray’s comment was representative of other broadly positive reports. ‘The supply has been pretty good. Suppliers have gotten their act together smartly. Couriers are getting mixed up but that’s just congestion,’ said Hedley Gordon at Book Review in St Ives, New South Wales.

The most frequently cited issue was regarding stock availability. ‘Stock levels, stock levels, stock levels,’ wrote Jason Lake from Imprints, in Adelaide. He also cited ‘poor information on TitlePage—the lack of firm information that we can then pass on to our customers’ as an issue. ‘We need to shout loud about it, particularly now that Amazon is here. We need really good information.’

Similarly, another Adelaide bookseller wrote: ‘Data on TitlePage is the biggest nightmare’. ‘Inability to work out what stock is on hand. Incorrect dates that result in lost sales. Stock unavailability with no correct ETA. We can’t always be ringing the suppliers—customers aren’t going to hang around while you sit on the phone.’

Others wrote that suppliers were underestimating demand, with Sophie Higgins from Dymocks attributing it to publishers printing ‘more and more conservatively upfront’. ‘As sales move closer and closer to Christmas and there is only so much room in backrooms to hold boxes—not an ideal combination for a title that “runs”!’ Higgins said.

Most stores seemed to be happy with how the big suppliers were performing this season. According to Rubbo: ‘UBD have been marvellous—very consistent and reliable. Harper good, but not as good as last year is my impression. ADS have been erratic. Some of the lower-ranking distributors really need to lift their game.’

Echoing Rubbo, another Melbourne indie bookseller said it was ‘so far, so good’. ‘The big suppliers seem on top of things, and the usual slow suppliers are slow as usual.’ One regional NSW bookseller said: ‘United are doing a good job given the volume that they deal with’ but ‘a few smaller ones are less reliable.’

However, damaged stock—particularly from the big suppliers—was cited as a problem by several of the bookstores surveyed. ‘It’s been pretty good this year. We’re still getting a few damaged books from the biggest supplier but overall they’ve been pretty fast,’ said Christopher Pearce at Hobart Bookshop.

‘The only complaint I have is poor packing—not so much the boxes but damaged items that should not have gone into the box from the warehouse in the first place,’ wrote another Tasmanian indie. ‘We’ve had it happen on a number of occasions with United and Alliance.’

The majority of bookstores (70%) surveyed said they were carrying about the same amount of stock as last year. Almost a quarter (24%) are carrying more, down from 46% last year, and just six percent are carrying less, as was the case last season.

Reasons for carrying less stock ranged from making more room for non-book items to making a ‘conscious decision to carry less but be smarter about it—evaluating what will move quickly and then keep on top of re-orders’. Those stocking more said they were mostly trying to shore up their stores in anticipation of supply problems, while a couple of stores were stocking more due to big releases in October and November.

Christmas staffing remains stable for the majority of booksellers, with 87% keeping the same number of staff as last year (up from 79% in 2016). Seven percent of stores have increased staffing and six percent are putting on fewer staff this Christmas.

Less than half of all bookstores surveyed (45%) said they will not be holding a public sale, with 54% planning to host a sale after Christmas and just one percent having a pre-Christmas sale.

 

Online sales and ebooks x

Thirty-seven percent of bookstores surveyed aren’t selling print books online this Christmas, with 17% not having a store website at all. For those that are selling online, the majority are continuing to see an uptick in sales, with 53% of stores reporting an increase of 20-50% (up from 10% last year), 7% have increased by 10-20% (down from 68% last year) and another six percent have increased by 10% or less.

None of the indies surveyed are selling ebooks.

All online-only booksellers surveyed reported a rise in sales. At Booktopia, CEO Tony Nash reported that sales for both print and ebooks were up. Nash said of the books on offer this season: ‘A nice broad range from a variety of categories is giving customers a good selection to choose from’. The bestselling print book sales for Booktopia came from: The Barefoot Investor (Scott Pape, John Wiley), Working Class Man (Jimmy Barnes, HarperCollins), Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo, Particular Books), Saga Land (Richard Fidler & Kari Gislason, ABC Books) Burke and Wills (Peter FitzSimons, Hachette) and 5Ingredients: Quick and Easy Food Recipes (Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph).

 

Publishers’ perspectives x

Australia’s large and medium-sized publishers are expecting a steady 2017 Christmas trading period, with most reporting that sales are either up or ‘about the same’ compared to the same time last year.

Compared to 2016, when the drop-off in adult colouring books resulted in a slight downturn for the industry, a broad selection of titles across multiple categories, including children’s books, fiction and nonfiction, are leading many publishers to expect an okay, if not excellent, Christmas season.

Most publishers feel the Christmas rush is hitting about the same time as last year, with a few observing the rush will be later due to Christmas Day falling on a Monday. ‘[It] will mean a bumper Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th of December,’ says Affirm Press marketing and sales director Keiran Rogers.

In general, online print book sales are ‘about the same’ or up on last year, while ebook sales are either remaining flat or trending down, particularly among larger publishers.

Penguin Random House sales director Gavin Schwarcz predicts an ‘excellent’ Christmas for the publisher this year, with sales remaining ‘about the same’ as the previous year. The publisher’s list is performing well ‘across the board’, with Jamie Oliver and Jeff Kinney leading the bestselling titles. Children’s titles also feature prominently, including No One Likes a Fart by Zoe Foster Blake and Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, while the ebook highlights are dominated by commercial fiction heavyweights Lee Childs, Dan Brown, Marian Keyes and Clive Cussler.

Christmas sales will be ‘close to expectations’, reports Hachette joint managing director Louise Sherwin-Stark, and while sales are down compared to 2016, Sherwin-Stark notes this is because the publisher was ‘still enjoying strong J K Rowling sales this time last year’. Remove the Rowling effect and ‘the underlying Christmas business is up’, says Sherwin-Stark. Hachette is also experiencing strong sellers across the board, although debut children’s book Nevermoor is the publisher’s ‘standout’. ‘[It] is exceeding all expectations and forecasts. We are on track for sales of 100,000 across Australia and New Zealand before Christmas,’ says Sherwin-Stark.

Other Hachette bestsellers include Peter FitzSimons’ Burke and Wills and a crop of new commercial fiction by John Grisham, David Lagercrantz, and Stephen and Owen King. While sales of ebooks are down on last year, online sales of print books remain steady.

Sales at HarperCollins are about the same compared to last year, with frontlist titles performing particularly well. ‘New release sales have been good, but backlist has been slower than normal,’ reports CEO James Kellow. Children’s books, memoir and cookery are performing strongly, and new releases by last year’s Christmas standouts Jimmy Barnes, David Walliams and Donna Hay are maintaining their sales dominance this year for the publisher: ‘Jimmy Barnes’ second memoir, Working Class Man, has performed even better than last year’s great success,’ says Kellow. ‘David Walliams’ Bad Dad is also significantly up on last year’s The Midnight Gang, thanks in part to the success of his tour, and Saga Land has been an indie and chain favourite.’

Australian author Matt Stanton’s ‘Funny Kid’ series is also doing well, and crime and suspense titles lead HarperCollins’ ebook bestsellers, although overall sales for ebooks at the publisher are down.

Two familiar names—Maggie Beer and Rupi Kaur—lead the bestsellers for Simon & Schuster. Maggie’s Recipe for Life and The Sun and Her Flowers head up the publisher’s list of strongest performers, which also includes Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci, Rachel Renee Russell’s Dork Diaries: Crush Catastrophe and Isabel Allende’s In the Midst of Winter.

In general, Christmas sales at Simon & Schuster are close to expectations and remain steady on last year, says managing director Dan Ruffino. Nonfiction is the publisher’s strongest performing category, while international titles Vince Flynn’s Enemy of the State, Kate Furnivall’s The Betrayal and Richard Beasley’s Burden of Lies are performing well in ebook format. Overall, Simon & Schuster’s ebook sales are steady this Christmas compared to 2016, and online sales are up.

Fiction and children’s book are performing strongly for Pan Macmillan, although a nonfiction title, Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, is the publisher’s best performer. Other strong performers include Di Morrissey’s The Red Coast, Jane Harper’s Force of Nature and Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s The 91-Storey Treehouse. Overall, sales are down compared to this time last year, and Pan Macmillan is expecting Christmas to be ‘okay’.

Sales are up at Allen & Unwin and the publisher’s market share is also tracking higher, says group sales and marketing director Jim Demetriou. Demetriou attributes the performance to ‘a stronger local publishing program spearheaded by our trio of Miles Franklin winnersSofie Laguna, Michelle De Kretser and Alex Millerand a stronger and broader nonfiction offering anchored by Nick Riewoldt’s autobiography, Australian cricket captain Steve Smith’s The Journey, and No Front Line by Chris Masters’. ‘Our children’s list is also outperforming last year thanks to Jaclyn Moriarty’s The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone and continued success with Patty Mills’ “Game Day” series,’ says Demetriou.

Fleur McDonald’s Suddenly One Summer and Michael Connelly’s Two Kinds of Truth are also selling strongly for Allen & Unwin across both print and ebook formats. Overall, the publisher’s ebook sales are down.

Food and illustrated titles lead the way for Allen & Unwin stablemate Murdoch Books, and publishing director Lou Johnson reports that sales are tracking ‘close to expectations’ and are steady compared to last year. Murdoch has three cookbooks (Poh Ling Yeow’s Poh Bakes 100 Greats, Matt Moran’s Australian Food, and Holly Davis’ Ferment) among its bestsellers, with Scott Cam’s Scotty’s Top Aussie Sheds also selling well. Ebook and online print purchases are both ‘about the same’, according to Johnson.

Sales are up at Text, although publisher Michael Heyward feels it’s ‘too soon to know’ by how much given the strong performance of late October and November titles by Helen Garner and John Clarke. Adult fiction and nonfiction are the strongest categories for Text this Christmas, and bestsellers include Clarke’s Tinkering and A Pleasure to Be Here, Garner’s Stories and True Stories, Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist’s Two Steps Forward, Sarah Krasnostein’s The Trauma Cleaner and Garry Disher’s Cold Bright Lights. Disher, Krasnostein, and Simsion and Buist also lead the ebook titles, although overall sales are down.

Affirm Press sales and marketing director Keiran Rogers says sales are up 25%, which is close to expectations for the Melbourne-based publisher. ‘Most publishers would be delighted with [25%], but we’ve become accustomed to more!’ says Rogers. The Very Noisy Baby by Alison Lester, Deadly Kerfuffle by Tony Martin and Kevin Sheedy’s autobiography are all selling strongly for the publisher, along with Cooking with Kindness by Edgar’s Mission and Charlotte Smith’s One Enchanted Evening. Online print sales and ebook sales are both up, and Martin’s novel is also leading the publisher’s ebook titles.

Sales are also up for small press distributor Dennis Jones and Associates. ‘We were in front coming into December and we should see an overall result putting us ahead of 2016,’ says director Dennis Jones, who adds that with an extra 12 days of trading left, the company is ‘in a solid position’. Jones points out that the strongest sellers range across multiple sectors‘including strong backlist support’and key titles for the distributor include Sunbury: Australia’s Greatest Rock Festival (Peter Evans, Melbourne Books), The Tigers’ Almanac 2017: Ninth No More (John Harms & Mandy Johnson, Malarkey), Every Day of My Life (Beeb Birtles, Brolga Books), The Grade Cricketer (Dave Edwards, Ian Higgins & Sam Perry, Melbourne Books) and both paperback and hardback editions of Hey Warrior (Karen Young, illus by Norvile Dovidonyte, Little Steps).

Jones also feels a level of ‘consumer uncertainty’ this year due to national and international affairs. ‘With the turbulence created by the media, it could be difficult for consumers to react in a timely way,’ said Jones.‘I can’t underestimate the effect of an unbalanced media talking up change and turbulence,’ he says. ‘We have also been affected by consumer uncertainty due to the state of federal and state political agendas.’

 

Expectations in check x

After a slow start to Christmas sales, booksellers are almost unanimously keeping their expectations in check, despite what’s hoped to be a bumper last week of sales.

Almost four in five (78%) of booksellers are expecting Christmas to be ‘okay’, up significantly from 41% in 2016. Sixteen percent are expecting sales to be ‘excellent’ (down from 47% last year), and just six percent are expecting ‘disappointing’ Christmas sales (down from 12%).

Many booksellers seem resigned to the new retail landscape and the impact of ecommerce, as well as the seemingly permanent change in consumer behavior in the lead-up to the Christmas season.

One Victorian indie said they are ‘hoping it gets better’ but added that ‘Christmas is nowhere near what it used to be’, noting they’ve been in the trade for more than 30 years. ‘The internet, Book Depository and Amazon have had an effect. The whole industry needs a revamp, and publishers need to value the retailers and work with them. We are the bread and butter of the industry, ensuring that publishers, booksellers and authors all win. Ebooks can’t sustain authors, let alone retailers,’ the bookseller said.

Another Melbourne indie suggested that bricks-and-mortar retail is struggling. ‘Our entire strip has been flat all year, and it seems to be continuing in that vein’.

Margaret Hutchings from Bookoccino in Sydney is expecting Christmas to be okay. ‘I’m a cynic. I’ve been doing this too long. And we’re under a government that has no idea about small business and local culture.’ Elaine Medhurst from Just Books in Lakes Entrance, Victoria, lamented the ‘lack of a level playing field with internet buying’.

On the positive side, however, Scott Whitmont from Lindfield Bookshop in Sydney said he’s ‘had a number of comments from customers that they’re making sure they’re supporting us because they don’t want us to be affected by Amazon Australia’.

Another bookseller said ‘there seems to be a renewed interest in printed material, which is very encouraging’. ‘People are actually commenting, there seems to be a sense of disappointment with ebooks,’ they said.

 

 

 

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