Publishing & Printing Services

The Unprecedented Demise of Our World-Wide Book Industry

13th January 2015

Why are bookstores & book sales declining around the world?

Why are hard and soft cover book, and even eBook, sales declining around the world? A myriad of relevant and inescapable online data shows that the sale of books in nearly every country around the world has fallen to an average of more than 9% annually especially during the 2013 and 2014 period – 8.5% in Australia. Most peoples' immediate reaction to this is to say 'This is due to the economic downturn experienced in most countries around the world'. If one was to mention a flattening out of sales with no increases during this time, I would say 'Yes, most certainly possible – but NOT 9%!' This incredible drop in sales shows a worldwide book industry in dire crisis and shock, coupled with the ominous danger of the possible collapse of our economically-important, corner book-store. Every person on this planet would have seen at least one or more book stores shut down in their local community or immediate environment. There are still many people without computers (or even with) who would simply love to go to their local bookstore and buy books for themselves or for others. But guess what? The store isn’t there anymore! So, let's have a look at the real reason for this unprecedented demise:

The real reason behind this unparalleled decline is the actions of a number of greedy corporations, as spear-headed by Amazon, who, with their seemingly automated sociopathic control patterns, have no qualms about destroying the livelihoods of Publishers, Book Retailers and even Authors. Let's analyse and see how this has come about and the obvious need to find a solution to 'right' this incredible 'wrong'.

In November 2007, Amazon launched their 1st eReader called Kindle. When looking at the launch and the ongoing development of Kindle one might reason that this was done to help book enthusiast and the publishing industry alike. Wrong! The real reason Amazon launched the Kindle was to eventually reach a world monopoly, which they started to achieve by what is known as 'Vendor Lock-in'. In other words, buying a Kindle eReader (over the last seven plus years now) hand-cuffs the customer to only ever buying eBooks from the Amazon store – It's like signing a contract with your local corner bookstore where you will never be allowed to buy books from any other store! This is very un-democratic and begs the question 'Doesn't this contravene fair trading and ethical competition principles & standards in various countries? And what are governments doing about this?' Unfortunately there are other companies, like Google, and Barnes & noble, etc., who have followed suit and have created similar sociopathic behaviourisms. These corporations have also started price wars that have forced many corner book-stores, publishers and even authors into bankruptcy. As a matter of fact Amazon became so big that it started to dictate pricing policies to many publishers worldwide – a classic example was the nasty confrontation between 'Amazon and Hachette' – and virtually forced them to their knees with all sorts of threats and intimidations by purposely restricting advertisements and slowing sales on particular publishers' books. Again 'Where are the fair trading and ethical competition principles?' Non-existent or simply not-enforced I guess. This is precisely why the book industry around the world is now in dire crisis and shock. It's true what they say 'When we allow absolute power to corrupt than absolute power corrupts absolutely'. It's certainly time for a new book industry model to come about that will allow book retailers, publishers and authors to co-exist in a much more equitable environment. Is there anyone out there that can come up with a new book industry model? Yes – there is, and it's called Bibliosity!

Peter W. Whitewood

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