By Aimee Chanthadavong

With REDgroup Retail entering into voluntary administration last week, RetailBiz caught up with book chain Dymocks’ CEO Don Grover to see whether they were feeling the pressure of online shopping.

“We’re no where near it,” Grover said.

“No doubt retailers are finding the current retail environment tough and online shopping is posing a challenge, but we’re in a strong financial position and have been for the last 130 years and there is certainly opportunity to remain in the sector; it’s just about supply the books that customers want.”

Grover noted Dymocks is covering its entire basis to secure its position in the retail market, including making adjustments for the growing demand for e-books.

“We’ve established ourselves in both sectors. We have over 200,000 e-books, but it still makes up a modest part of our sales. But because we’re established in this, then we believe there shouldn’t be a problem whether customers want to be digital or hard copy books,” he said.

“But the thing is customers will love the physical book product, with 99 per cent of our books sole are physical books and we expect it to remain that significant well into the future.” 

According to Grover, the current battle that book stores are facing against online shopping can be deterred if parallel importation restrictions on books are removed by the federal government, which will increase the competitiveness of local book sellers.

“The book selling industry is in desperate need for reform. We’ve argued for the removal of parallel importation restrictions for publishers. We believe this will invigorate book sellers to access cheaper books at wholesale prices and bring those cheaper products here,” he said.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said there is opportunity for independent and specialist bookstores to benefit from the rise of online shopping and electronic readers that are challenging larger bookstore chains.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said that electronic book publishing focused on popular fiction produced in high volume but there would always be a market for difficult to find or specialty books in hard copy.

“Despite the trend for consumers to move away from buying traditional books and instead enjoy the lasted popular fiction on their Kindle or e-reader, booklovers who seek out rare or niche books, will still prefer to buy from local community booksellers and read the old -fashioned way,” he said in a statement.

“There is an opportunity here for independent, community focused bookstores to do very well because they are more likely to stock the wider range of unique and quality books literature connoisseurs are seeking.