Indies bloom

• Elizabeth’s Bookshops co-owner Liz Schmitz. File photo.

INDEPENDENT bookshops are thriving in Perth and won’t be heavily impacted by internet giant Amazon’s new Perth distribution centre, says Elizabeth’s Bookshops co-owner Harry Schmitz.

The Amazon “fulfilment centre” in Belmont will open by the end of the year and mean faster book deliveries for WA customers, but Mr Schmitz says it will mostly affect the few remaining High Street chain bookstores like Dymocks.

“There is a strong revival of independent bookshops in the USA – despite Amazon’s gigantic strength in North America,” he says.

“This development appears to be related to the ‘retail experience’ which customers enjoy in a traditional bricks-and-mortar local bookshop.

“Amazon’s biggest negative impact in the last six years has been on the “chain” bookshops (in the USA and Australia), less so the independents.”

When Amazon launched its online Kindle Store in 2007, market analysts predicted the e-book would kill off High Street bookshops within five years.

But Mr Schmitz says that since 2014 the ebook market share has plateaued at 15 per cent, or in some cases declined.

He doesn’t believe Amazon will be be able to slash prices as deeply in Australia as it did in the States.

“Amazon’s cost structure in Australia will be significantly higher than in the USA, especially in cost of labour, transport and postage. Therefore, I expect that Amazon’s prices in Australia to be closer to recommended retail than their US prices.”

Elizabeth’s has outlets in Fremantle, Perth and New South Wales, and Mr Schmitz says they have increased or maintained their overall turnover for several years. “This is mainly due to significant increases in our Queen Victoria Street Bookshop Warehouse (Fremantle) and other branches. Unfortunately, our South Terrace branch has suffered significantly from the disruption to access and parking during the King’s Square development.”

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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