Book sales slip through 2011 but retailers upbeat as Christmas trade soars
Book sales slipped through 2011 after the collapse of market leader REDgroup Retail, but booksellers are upbeat on the year ahead after an improved Christmas period in which sales grew by up to 40%.
Book sales fell by 7.1% last year to 60.4 million, Nielsen BookScan says, and the value of sales slumped by 12.6% to $1.1 billion.
Nielsen general manager Shaun Symonds is quoted saying the fall was partly driven by the collapse of REDgroup Retail, the owner of Angus & Robertson and Borders which collapsed in February.
The market has also faced competition from the eBook.
But Jon Page, President of Australian Booksellers Association and manager of Pages & Pages in Sydney's Mosman, says members are reporting "very good trade" for the key Christmas period, with sales growth tipped at between 5% and 10%.
Some are even reporting annual growth of 40%, Page told SmartCompany this morning.
"Independent stores were very strong, as were regional stores," he says.
Page says emails warning that online sales might not reach a customer before Christmas had helped bricks and mortar stores.
"People were worried about delivery; maybe they'd had troubled the year ahead, and people didn't want to miss out," Page says.
In other positive news, Page says book prices are starting to come down in recognition of the Australian dollar's strength against the US dollar.
He also noted that the children's book Diary of a Wimpy Kid had soared in just weeks, providing good competition to the new cook book by Jamie Oliver.
"That's positive for the future of the industry."
Independent book seller and Council of Small Business of Australia head Peter Strong concurred it had been a strong Christmas, but said those in shopping centres had outperformed those in strips.
"What we're hearing is good stuff, but in my opinion it depends on your location," Strong says.