Most people love settling down with a good book, but like with many products, people are turning towards online bookstores like Amazon to buy their next read.
Elizabeth’s Bookshop’s Harry Schmitz said the game was changing and the negative impact on ‘bricks and mortar’ bookshops by online sellers like Amazon was significant.
‘France has recently legislated to protect their retail book industry against the incursion (of online sellers) but Australia still happily allows them free rein and does not charge the GST the rest of us booksellers have to pay,’ he said.
‘What Australian booksellers seek and deserve is a level playing field from the government and a public with a ‘fair trade’ attitude to books as well as their coffee.
‘Local bookstores are an important part of the texture of a community and deserve the support of their communities.’
The second problem is the growing popularity of electronic books, or e-books, with many people turning to the ease of downloading books and storing them all in one place.
Mr Schmitz said the advent of the wireless, cinema, television, the computer and Space Invaders games were all tipped to be the death of books, but e-books provided a real problem.
‘In the case of many bookshops, including the big chains as well as many fine bookstores, the effect is already visible,’ he said.
‘The e-reader’s impact on the Australian book market is below 10 per cent but it has grabbed a significant market share from traditional books and that 10 per cent loss can, and did, mean the end for many booksellers.
‘The appeal of ‘real’ books over electronic books is essentially an aesthetic, sensual, tactile one because yes, they both constitute a book, but the experience of reading one compared to the other is very different.’
It is not something that affects only adults according to Fremantle Literature Centre director Lesley Reece, who said children interacted more with a traditional book over an e-book.
‘Traditional books allow for shared enjoyment and you can’t have a shared experience with an e-book,’ she said.