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Self-Publishing News: Australia’s Largest Online Bookseller Booktopia Goes Into Administration

Self-Publishing News: Australia’s Largest Online Bookseller Booktopia Goes into Administration

ALLi News Editor, Dan Holloway

Thank you to our Australia ambassador, Jacqui Lane, for bringing this story to our attention. Booktopia is Australia's largest online bookseller, and it is, sadly, seemingly on the verge of collapse. A fascinating article on the academic longform platform The Conversation goes into the full details, why it matters, and what it means.

But first, the bare facts. Booktopia last week went into voluntary administration, with its share price hitting just 1.5 percent of its peak. Voluntary administration is not the same as winding up completely, but it is a direction of travel that doesn’t feel like it will end well, and commentators don’t seem hopeful. The next key date is July 15, when creditors meet for the first time. The company will carry on its online business in the meantime.

Booktopia has been selling books online for twenty years and growing steadily, with its height coming during the COVID-19 pandemic. It capitalized on Amazon’s reticence to move into Australia and gained significant traction before Amazon got there (rather as Storytel and other Nordic audiobook platforms did in Northern Europe).

The piece outlines some considerable failings on Booktopia’s part, such as finding itself in trouble for falsely claiming titles were in stock and reducing its period for returns to two days. But other factors, such as the inevitable rise of Amazon and an over-commitment to warehouse space, have played a part. In particular, the squeeze on pricing that came from the heavy discounting by Amazon impacted a company trying to thrive in a market where margins are low to start with.

There doesn’t seem to be any suggestion that bricks-and-mortar stores or reading more generally are in trouble. But inevitably, this will lead to a concentration of business that benefits Amazon, which will not be to the benefit of the local literary industry that Booktopia was committed to supporting. For further details, you can read more on Publishers Weekly.

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Author: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40


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