If you haven’t heard yet, Angus and Robertson and Borders were placed into voluntary administration last Thursday. There stores are expected to continue trading as normal. There are 103 stores Angus and Robertson stores. Sixty-one franchises should not be affected. Borders has 26 stores.
We don’t have an Angus and Robertson or Borders in Wangaratta so it won’t effect my book buying. I have never been into a Borders, but had thought of them as a big American company who probably would not promote Australian authors as much as an Australian owned bookstore would. A
But it is a shame to hear that Angus and Robertson is in trouble.
Online sales were not the cause.
Online sales might have had a slight influence on Borders and Angus and Roberston’s problems, but economic analysts are saying the major cause was their owner REDgroup’s debt.
According to Age analyst Michael Evans “the private equity owners of REDgroup Retail, Pacific Equity Partners, had a simple plan – bulk up its existing bookstore business by buying a fresh revenue stream in Borders, strip out costs from overlap, then flog the combined business to the public in a float”.
Other booksellers also blame poor management and business models. Chris Redfern, who owns a bookstore in Albert Park, is quoted saying Borders had “appalling management, hopeless customer service and a poor range of books”.
Author Richard Flanagan was scathing in his opinion piece on the retailer’s troubles. He said REDgroup was “overly indebted, seeking to make up the growing difference between its mounting debt burden and its more humble income by using its businesses to fleece customers and suppliers”. He gave as an example the attempt to charge publishers up to $20,000 for shelf space.
He said, “while REDgroup's chairman, Steven Cain is now telling the federal government the company's failure is in part because of the government's decision not to open up the book market to parallel importation and thus, supposedly, cheaper books, that didn't stop the company routinely charging above recommended retail prices for its books. If it was worried about retail pricing, it wasn't reflected in its own pricing structure”.
REDgroup’s troubles are bad news for authors.
Flanagan saw the demise of Borders and Angus and Robertson as bad news for the Australian Publishing industry, saying it will cause many large publishers to “continue the process already begun of sacking staff and slashing their Australian lists, telling authors that despite their promise or their record that the market has vanished. To survive they will concentrate ever more on the books stocked by the discount department stores - Kmart, Big W and the like: celebrity titles, overseas mass-market hits, cookbooks”.
Some good news in the book retail world.
John Manigan reported in an article in Sunday’s Age that
I have begun to worry over the past few years that most bookstores in
My writing efforts last week.
In between reading many articles about Borders and Angus and Robertson, I did manage to do some editing/rewriting of my novella. I actually progressed further into the novella too. But this week I will be spending some time gathering all the information together for my next Divine article on how ebooks might affect the publishing industry. If you’re a publisher, feel free to send your thoughts to email@example.com.
My article about authors with a disability, featuring interviews with multi-award winning science fiction author KA Bedford and very close to being published writer Karen Tyrrell, should be up on the Divine website this Thursday.