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Online book sales to rise


trolley, online, iconOnline book sales in Australia have undergone rapid growth over the past five years, according to IbisWorld.

Consumers have taken to online shopping quickly, becoming more comfortable with e-commerce transactions and receiving items via delivery.

A report on online book sales in Australia by IbisWorld has found that industry revenue is forecast to rise by a compound annual 26.0 per cent over the five years through 2013-14, to reach $321.9 million.

“The migration away from bricks and mortar retailers to online e-tailers has translated into revenue growth for online book sales,” David Whytcross, Ibisworld industry analysis, said.

The demise of bricks and mortar book retailers due to parallel import restrictions (PIR) and local and overseas online competition has driven more consumers to purchase from industry operators, although growth has been partially limited by the global dominance of Amazon and its subsidiaries.

International competitors have enjoyed favourable conditions over the past five years due to the high Australian dollar.

They are also able to bypass PIR, which prevents the mass importation of foreign-published books and forces local retailers to charge higher prices.

While local e-tailers are also subject to PIR, the decline of independent bookstores and large scale chains like Borders has enticed more consumers to shop online for books.

Furthermore, consumers have increasingly moved towards e-books, particularly as reading devices such as e-readers and tablets have become more advanced.

However, the boosts provided by online and e-book migration have begun to slow down, resulting in forecast revenue growth of 16.5 per cent in the current year.

Growth in the online book sales industry is expected to slow slightly over the next five years, as there will be no major events or new technologies such as the Apple iPad.

Consumers are expected to continue migrating to e-books at a slower rate, particularly for educational purposes, however, internet piracy is a growing concern.

The industry is also expected to benefit from the depreciating Australian dollar, as consumers will have incentive to move away from Amazon and towards the now more price-competitive local online bookstores.

Consequently, industry revenue is forecast to rise over the five years through 2018-19.

The industry consists of a large number of smaller, independent operators that cater to niche segments, giving it a low level of concentration.

“Robust external competition from Amazon and the Book Depository has prevented the major players from capitalising on economies of scale,” says Whytcross.


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