Amazon’s Book Depository expands Australian titles and begins shipping from Melbourne

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Amazon’s Book Depository expands Australian titles and begins shipping from Melbourne

Amazon is ramping up its presence in the local book market, with online retailer Book Depository today announcing a major expansion of its Australian book range.

Book Depository, which was bought by Amazon in 2011, is adding more than 25,000 Australian titles to its collection.

While Australians have been able to purchase books from Book Depository since the site launched back in 2005, this is the first time the online retailer has focused specifically on the Australian market.

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Book Depository will also now ship books from Australia for the first time, with third-party logistics company DAI Post in Melbourne to pack and send local orders.

Chris McKee, group managing director of Book Depository, told SmartCompany this morning this is the first time the online retailer will be shipping Australian titles locally.

 “Previously, we’ve had titles from Australian authors once they become available internationally and what we’re going to have now are titles from Australian authors that become available when they are available in Australia,” McKee says.

“We think that’s great for many reasons. One is we’ve got customers in 116 countries around the world and we’re excited to bring those Australian books to them much earlier than what they’d otherwise be available in the international market. And there’d be a whole body of up and coming authors we’re hopefully going to create new opportunities for. We see this as a win-win.”

McKee says Book Depository has signed deals with “dozens” of publishers in order to boost its Australian titles but did not name the publishers involved.

However, a statement released by Book Depository today referenced titles published by Allen & Unwin and Hinkler Books and included comments from Natasha Besliev, chief executive of Bonnier Publishing’s Australian operations.

While McKee would not disclose Book Depository’s annual turnover or reveal whether Australian sales have grown over the past few years, he did confirm Book Depository as a whole is growing.

“We grow in many different ways,” McKee says.

“We had 12 million books for sale last year and 14 million books for sale this year. One of the things we think we’re doing well internationally is offering free shipping. We also offer as many currencies as we can.”

Local booksellers ready for Amazon and Book Depository’s Australian push

Tony Nash, chief executive of Australian online retailer Booktopia, told SmartCompany he has been preparing for Amazon to have a stronger local presence for the past 12 years.

“We’re turning over well over $80 million this year and so we’re of a certain size now where we’ve got the critical mass,” Nash says.

“We bought Angus and Robertson Bookworld last year. We also have a very different model – we’ve got Australian titles in stock ready to ship from our distribution centre. We’ve got 110,000 titles and also put our phone number on our website.”

“Our approach has always been to make ourselves available to the readers and the other thing I think we’ve got working for our advantage is we have experts merchandising our website.”

Nash says his business has “a good stronghold” in the local market and is growing by 30% to 40% every single year.

However, Nash points out that bricks-and-mortar bookstores might be worried about Book Depository ramping up its Australian offering.

“For those on the brink, they will probably struggle as Amazon takes away the extra edge of orders from them,” he says.

“But there’s good bookstores that will continue to prosper. Good selling and adding value to the sales process has been around for thousands of years.

“It’s about adding value to the end consumer – you might get them on price, other times it’s got nothing to do with price at all and it’s whether the person assisted you to buy a product you really, really enjoyed.”

When asked about what how the local book market will react to Book Depository’s increased presence in Australia, McKee says greater competition between retailers is good for consumers.

“We just try to focus on customers and do the best job we can,” he says.

“Ultimately, customers can choose who they want to buy from and where they want to buy. I think it’s better that customers have more choice.”

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Broede Carmody is a former senior reporter at SmartCompany. Previously, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.

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