If you are an online shopper and user of gift wish list, then no doubt you will be familiar with the online book store and retailer Amazon, which has achieved almost total dominance in e-commerce.
The company recently tightened its grip on the online book retailing space having acquired the UK based company The Book Depository. Recently the company acquired Canada’s Advanced Book Exchange which is now known as ABEbooks, and links thousands of independent online booksellers globally.
The Book Depository is very popular with Australian consumers, in large part because of the company’s offer to provide what it says is free shipping on its huge catalogue to Australia.
The promise of free shipping however is a little deceptive, since the company typically adjusts the price of the books to the country where the purchase will be sent to. Despite that, the price remains competitive, and shoppers will find that the cost of book delivered to them in Australia remains well below what would be paid at a local bookstore. Whether they can continue to do so under Amazon’s ownership remains to be seen.
Says Neill Denny, editor of the UK Bookseller magazine: “The publishing industry will be worried about the concentration of power in Amazon’s hands. They don’t like the stranglehold it has over online bookselling as it is.”
DoubleClick last week put all three Amazon properties — ABEbooks, Book Depository and Amazon.com — to the test, to see which could come up with the lowest price for a copy of Tim Winton’s Breath.
This title in an Australian bookstore will cost $24.95 for the paperback edition and $45 for the hardcover.
Amazon.com offered the paperback version for $5.41 plus shipping to an address in Sydney address bringing the paperback total to $15.51, whilst the hardback version including delivery costs $24.95.
Book Depository, with its “free” shipping, offered the paperback at $11.77, the hardback at $21.94.
On ABEbooks, 270 booksellers on three continents offered us new copies of the paperback ranging from $1 to $14, and the hardback for about $22.
Compared to the price in a local store the quotes are amazing, and it comes as no surprise that Australian bookstores have been fighting an uphill battle.