SMALL Business Minister Nick Sherry has come under attack for suggesting most bookshops will close their doors within five years.
Senator Sherry was at an event to sell the benefits of online shopping when he made the comment.
“In five years, other than a few specialist booksellers in capital cities, we will not see a bookstore, they will cease to exist,” he told the gathering.
Opposition parliamentary secretary for small business Scott Ryan was there, and said the shock comment was unsurprising given the government’s poor track record on helping out bookstores.
In 2009, the government chose to maintain import restrictions that would have delivered cheaper books for stores and consumers, but at a cost to the local publishing industry.
Big booksellers, including Dymocks, Woolworths and Coles, argued it would make it harder to compete with online retailers.
“Booksellers in Australia have every right to be angry,” Senator Ryan said in a statement yesterday.
“Nick Sherry should be encouraging the prospects and aspirations of small business, not predicting doom and gloom and the end of book retailing – especially when one of the major problems for domestic book sales is a direct result of Labor policy.”
Senator Sherry later sent out a statement saying the government was keenly aware of the growing shift to online purchases.
It was why the government was developing its National Broadband Network and urging small businesses to build their online capacity.
The government had also set up a book industry strategy group in April 2010, which is due to report back later this year.
I guess this comment by Nick Sherry is in response to the demise of Borders, taking Angus & Robertson down with it.
The sad part is that Borders lost the plot a couple of years ago. I used to LOVE Borders – they had all sorts of books that I just couldn’t get anywhere else. I could spend ages browsing and always walked out with at least a couple of books I’d purchased.
But then they changed – gradually the bookshelves disappeared to be replaced by CDs and DVDs. Then more bookshelves disappeared and the trashy gifts started appearing.
Before long, their range of books had plummeted, meaning that instead of being unique, they just started having all the same books as the cheaper outlets like KMart and Big W – and Borders charged full price.
The writing was on the wall at that point.
Sadly, I might add – now I will have to trek into the city to a couple of big bookstores there when I want my book fix.
Although it’s true that you can buy books online, most of the time I want to browse books on a subject before I choose exactly what I want.
But then again maybe I’m the odd one out!