Friday, August 8, 2014
Another Indie bookstore falls
First it was one of Wellington's iconic bookstores, Parson's. Now it's Capital Books.
The owners of Capital Books say that the might of online juggernauts Amazon et al have spelled the end of their store.
They will close at the end of this month, after 18 years of trading.
Owners Tim and Glenda Skinner said the impact of offshore book buying and the growth of eBooks are to blame.
Said Tim, customers are driven to the lower-priced options provided by online sellers. "People come in to take photos of our books with their iPhones, that we have so kindly displayed for them," he said rather bitterly. "And then they walk out."
Meantime, of course, they have used engines like google or bookfinder.com to find a cheaper option. Obviously, it is hard to compete with that, especially when you have to pay for stock, rent, and so forth. That the customer has to pay an extra tax -- GST in New Zealand -- on top of the book price is also a factor. There is no GST on overseas online sales, not until the tax department works out a way to do it.
One wonders, then, why other Indie stores, like Unity Books in Wellington, and Time-Out and the Women's Bookstore in Auckland, are managing so well. Unity Book owner Tilly LLoyd said that the loss of Capital Books for the customers is a loss for Wellington. Like the stores in Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, they had a cooperative arrangement with Capital Books, where they occasionally shared staff, and sent customers to the other store if a requested book was out of stock.
Nonetheless, Unity must have a secret, because that store remains so visible. I was on a bus during the cruise ship season, where the jolly bus driver boomed as he stopped outside Unity: "Unity Bookstore, gateway to the library, the Civic Centre, and the Information Bureau." Dozens of people dismounted, and most strayed into Unity to have a browse.