AUSTRALIA’S booksellers are struggling to stay afloat, as book sales in Australia continue to rise, despite a steep fall in the number of customers.
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen “The numbers are just going down, but we’re seeing that the demand for books is still there, and that’s why we’re doing the same thing as we’ve been doing,” Paul Williams, president of the Australian Booksellers Association, told ABC Radio Adelaide on Wednesday.
He said bookseller demand had not declined in the first half of the year, but had risen by about half a million books a day.
Mr Williams said the association had “lost a significant amount of money” this year, with its books and magazines business taking a “devastating” hit.
“The number of booksellings that we do are very, very small, so it’s really hard to get any revenue from them,” he said.
The association’s latest book market report, released on Wednesday, found book sales fell to $1.2 billion last financial year, from $2.2bn in 2015. “
It’s been really difficult financially and the books that we sell are all from overseas.”
The association’s latest book market report, released on Wednesday, found book sales fell to $1.2 billion last financial year, from $2.2bn in 2015.
Photo by David McNew.
This fall in book sales was mainly driven by an increase in demand from the United States, Australia’s second largest market.
But Mr Williams admitted the number had dropped by almost half a billion books in the same period.
“In the United Kingdom, we’ve seen a rise in the volume of books, we’re in the midst of a strong season here, we haven’t seen a downturn in volume in that market,” he told ABC Adelaide.
“So there’s been a surge in sales, but it’s not there in Australia.”
He said it was not clear how much of the decline was due to “bad news” in the economy, but also the fact book sales had declined in countries like New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa.
“There’s no doubt that the books industry has been hit hard by the recession and the economic uncertainty,” he added.
Mr Williamson said bookstores in Australia had been hit hardest.
“Some of our stores have had sales decline from $3 million to $2 million.
So, even though we’re not the only Australian booksell, we are one of the biggest ones and that hit us pretty hard,” he explained.
“All our bookstores have had a loss.
That’s the main reason why our book prices are so low.”