Page 66 - Print 21 Magazine May-June 2019
P. 66

Doris Prodanovic
An open book
Australian online bookstore Booktopia
is making its way out of the Amazon jungle alive, with $113m worth of sales
in 2018, which will rise again this year. Doris Prodanovic speaks with Booktopia CEO Tony Nash about the bookselling and publishing scene, and what’s next for Australia’s leading bookstore.
When an online bookstore morphed into ‘the everything store’, it forgot
its origins along
the way. You will no longer find books featured as a top category
on Amazon’s homepage – instead,
it is led by electronics, sports and outdoors, and home improvement (bar Tim Allen). Since its expansion into Australia in 2017, Amazon has had a slower start than expected, with Australian retailers standing their ground with product offers and pricing, and a home grown company taking the reins as the nation’s leading online bookstore.
Booktopia predicts its revenue growth will reach $130m in 2019. It sold 5.5 million books in the past year, accounts for 14 per cent of all book sales across Australia, and sells a product – book, ebook, DVD, stationery or other – every six seconds. It’s an impressive feat to acknowledge 15 years on from its inception.
“Booktopia’s growth has been fairly consistent from when we started all those years ago with just $10,” says Booktopia CEO Tony Nash. “Amazon has not aggressively priced its books in Australia since it launched. We might not be as big as Amazon, but we’re competitive, our customers are passionate about us, and we’re always working with the publishers rather than against them.”
The offline is online
Perhaps it is Booktopia’s knack of emulating the traditional bookstore experience that gives it an edge over
66  Print21 MAY/JUNE 2019
Local book industry buoyant: Booktopia CEO Tony Nash
competitors. Its Sydney headquarters is home to a studio for video and podcast interviews with a range
of book industry professionals,
as well as an author signing room where, in 2018 alone, some 90,000 books were inked with a national or international author’s autograph.
“No matter what the business is, it is the value added to shopping experience that will keep customers coming back,” says Nash. “We
try to do something to connect
the customer to us, and by best emulating the shopping experience of a bookshop, we add value to the online point-of-sale.”
A publisher’s ally
Booktopia further collaborates
with Australian book publishers for pre-orders and major releases, where Nash says it can be make or break for a book to be a bestseller or not. Based on these close ties, Booktopia has launched its distribution business, involving discounts, stock on consignments and supply, and were even appointed to do so by the publishers themselves. Booktopia prints no books itself.
“Bookshops were buying from us anyway and we’re able to hold more stock at our warehouse, and that is why we launched Booktopia Publisher Services, our book distribution business,” says Nash. “We’re also looking to expand our academic texts on offer, and with co-op bookshops on campuses continuing to scale back, students, academic publishers and lecturers
are turning to us to handle these books and hold more units of popular titles, so they are readily available.”
Looking up
It is interesting to see the transparent and candid approach Nash takes when sharing the Booktopia way of life; information you would rarely ever hear from Amazon. Facts, figures and future plans are all accessible on Booktopia’s About Me page online, and Nash is more than happy to share, arguing, how will it help others “beat us”?
“What will people do with the information? The more open you are, the more trust you build,”
he says. “We want to share the growth of our company and so we’re embarking on a crowd-funding campaign through We’re looking to raise up to $10m
to further invest on our already $10m worth of automation, and go from the existing 148,000 titles in stock to 200,000 titles, ready to ship within 24 hours.”
The Equitise campaign started last November and will run until June, as Booktopia continues its steady growth alongside the Australian book publishing scene.
“The local book industry is buoyant and there is tremendous opportunity at the moment,” says Nash. “There’s a decline in ebooks, and audiobooks are doing well, but it’s clear to see neither will take over physical book sales. I am upbeat about the industry, a sentiment fuelled right around the world.” 21

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