Major bookstores Angus and Robertson and Borders, owned by REDgroup, are heading into receivership. There is significant impact not just to customers but the many freelance operators who write books and shoot images that are sold through these outlets. Although this offers challenges, there are great opportunities for freelancers as well.
While REDgroup accounted for about 20% of the Australian book market, as they added new stores, the independent bookstore business suffered. About 20% of this market closed as well, So, over a short time, the number of bookstores in Australia has collapsed by close to 40%.
An article by Richard Flanagan for the Fairfax papers summarises so of the problem:
In Australia, where 20,000 sales is a bestseller, the maths on 4 per cent [royalty] of an average UK-US price of $14 is sobering – $11,200 for two or three years’ work. That is, if you get published.
So, the economics of writing an publishing a book in Australia has always difficult. No one I know has managed to get rich writing and publishing books in Australia. But the collapse of REDgroup and the closure of so many independent stores has reduced the number of outlets for selling those books.
Freelancers need to review their business model. If you’re writing a book with the expectation of making real money then you need either re-evaluate your goal or re-evaluate your business model.
In case you’d missed it – the Interent is here to stay and there’s a huge opportunity. Self-publishing is now easier than ever and good operators that have learned about marketing and search engine optimisation have been able to publish their own books through Amazon, Apple and even the humble PDF.
There’s little doubt that the fall of REDgroup and independent booksellers will cause significant pain. However, this also represents an opportunity for enterprising freelancers.
What will you do about it?