I was going to post on the Pearson acquisition as part of our regular Tidbits post, but I know that many Aussie romance readers will find the Amazon acquisition of great interest, so I’m posting these two bits of news out of schedule.
Amazon and The Book Depository
I just saw this on Twitter (via @kate_elham), but it looks like Amazon will be acquiring The Book Depository, subject to all the legal stuff that has to happen for the acquisition to go ahead. I couldn’t find a direct link to the Amazon media release, but I’m assuming it won’t be long now.
UPDATE #1: Eoin Purcell speculates on his blog that one of the reasons for the acquisition could be to build a better market position in Australia. Wow. We matter! *happy sob*
UPDATE #2: On Twitter, TBD has stated that ‘The Book Depository will continue to operate independently.’ Then again, it’s early days yet. (Or no days, given that the sale hasn’t happened yet.)
UPDATE #3: Philip Jones at Futurebooks makes this comment: ‘[TBD] is big in those areas where Amazon isn’t, and in Australia competes head-on, with some success. Most importantly, it has established networks and routes into those countries, which Amazon simply does not. And I suspect it is these, rather than the turnover, that Amazon is most interested in.’
This is something that came up in one of the panels I attended at the 2011 Australian Romance Reading Convention. I believe Christina Lee from Mills & Boon brought it up. Here’s an excerpt from the tweet feed (I’ve removed off-topic tweets):
@BookThingo: The reason Book Depository is really cheap… Started with ex-Amz ppl. They use extra shipping container space to do free shipping #arrc2011
@BookThingo: Speculation that Amazon will one day buy Book Depository. Shock! Horror! No more free shipping! #arrc2011
@SuzsSpace: @BookThingo Really? What about their shipping rates through Royal Mail? What do they pay #arrc2011
@melscott: @BookThingo Book depos also gets UK govt subsidy for shipping, I think? #arrc2011
@BookThingo: @SuzsSpace No idea. That was from the publishing people. #arrc2011
These were some of the responses (I’ve removed off-topic tweets):
@bookbinge: Would be BAD! RT: @BookThingo: Speculation that Amazon will one day buy Book Depository. Shock! Horror! No more free shipping! #arrc2011
@ReneeRBA: Noooo. >.< RT @bookbinge: Would be BAD! RT: @BookThingo: Speculation that Amz will 1 day buy Bk Depository?No more free shipping! #arrc2011
@genrelibrarian: RT @BookThingo: Publishers constantly underestimating their readers. US readers don’t just read US setting! Risk averse industry. #arrc2011
@obsidiantears83: RT @BookThingo: Speculation that Amazon will one day buy Book Depository. Shock! Horror! No more free shipping! #arrc2011
@UGOTGOT: This must NEVER happen RT: @BookThingo: Speculation that Amz will 1 day buy Bk Depository?No more free shipping! #arrc2011
Clearly this is a concern for a lot of readers, especially those in smaller, protected markets like Australia. If free shipping disappears, we will be deeply unhappy. But if Purcell is right, it may mean that Amazon is seriously looking at officially entering the Australian market.
On the other hand, I know many independent Australian booksellers attribute the decline of their market on The Book Depository, much more so than Amazon. I wonder how they’re taking the news. I also wonder what publishers are thinking, especially those with parent companies overseas.
Pearson and REDgroup online
According to BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER, Pearson will be acquiring REDgroup’s online business, including Borders and Angus & Robertson. There seems to be some change to the agreement with Kobo. I don’t know what it means, but it sounds like the link between Kobo and Borders/A&R will be less tight than it used to be (my interpretation only). No decision on loyalty programs, yet. Lucky I kept my loyalty card!
What’s probably of more concert to the industry is that a publisher now owns an online retail shop. My understanding is that publishers have so far been careful not to upset retailers by undercutting them on online pricing. The Pearson acquisition many seem ominous to bookshops. I don’t work in the industry, so I don’t have any insights. I guess we’ll see how it all develops—there’s a Twitter hashtag already: #REDgroupPearson.