E-readers have received an unexpected sales boost thanks to the demise of bricks and mortar book retailers, if figures cited by Kobo are to be believed.
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The head of its Australasian outfit, Malcolm Neil, has said his outfit noticed a massive increase in sales just after the retailers Borders and Angus & Robertson collapse last month.
Its demise was blamed on the ascendency of e-readers like the Amazon Kindle, Kobo e-reader as well as the iPad.
Redgroup owned Borders sold in-store its own eBook platform that was powered by Canadian-based Kobo, but it clearly wasn’t enough to fight off the digital rivals.
However, it wasn’t as simple as that, says Neil, and the demise of the bricks and mortar giant simply highlighted the changeover to digital readers.
“We actually saw a huge sales spike in the couple weeks afterwards,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. The e-readers’ saw a 30 per cent increase in traffic to its site, reflecting the general push away from paperback.
“The mere fact that there is all this speculation whether e-books had pushed REDgroup into administration drove a lot of people to look at e-books,” said Neil, who is a former Redgroup employee and CEO of the Australian Booksellers Association.
E-books accounted for $42 million to $52 million of book sales last year, out of a total $1.4bn, meaning the e-book revolution has a bit to go yet.
Amazon also earlier confirmed a similar trend, announcing in January its Kindle eBook reader is now their best selling product. They also sold three times as many Kindle books as hardcover books.
In the US, 115 Kindles have been sold for every 100 paperbacks so far in 2011.
David Fenlon, Group MD of Redgroup admitted earlier in the year that Amazon was taking “a huge chunk” of the Australian bookselling industry back in May when Borders first announced their competing Kobo e-reader.
The group that has 674 US stores employing 19,500 people comes 14 months after Borders’ UK arm went bust, with a loss of 1,100 jobs.
Borders creditors are owed a bill to the tune of $44 million.