Australia’s ebook publishers to be put under new ownership: report
Author and journalist Matt Karp writes that, with the government backing down on its support of digital book sales, the next chapter in the publishing industry will be one of digital domination.
“I’m very much anticipating the end of the digital era for Australian publishing,” he writes.
The report notes that Australian publishing houses will continue to publish ebooks on Amazon for the foreseeable future, but with a different publisher.
That’s because, as part of its bid to control digital book revenues, the Government is also looking to acquire its biggest bookseller, Simon & Schuster, which publishes books for print and ebook.
“We will no longer be able to maintain the position of owning our own publishing house,” says Karp.
Simon & Shuster will still be part of Amazon’s publishing business, but will also be bought out by Amazon, the report says.
“Amazon has decided to acquire Simon & Shah, and will sell its remaining assets to Amazon,” it adds.
Karp points to Amazon’s recent acquisition of Borders for $1.4 billion as another indication that the Australian book industry is on the path to a digital future.
He points to its move away from print, which will be reflected in the number of titles on its website.
“When Borders went digital in the late 90s and early 2000s, the number on the homepage was not much higher than what it is now,” he says.
While Borders is no longer a publishing house, Karp says that Amazon has a vested interest in keeping it that way.
“They’re not only going to be a dominant player in book publishing, but also in e-book publishing,” Karp tells Business Insider.
Amazon’s strategy is to push digital book consumption as fast as possible.
In its first year of operation, Amazon had nearly one million e-books sold.
By 2020, it plans to have 1.4 million ebooks available for purchase on Amazon.
The Government’s report notes Amazon’s decision to invest in new ebook platforms will give it a huge advantage.
“The digital ecosystem is poised to grow at a rapid pace, particularly with Amazon’s increasing presence and potential to drive growth,” it states.
“This will mean the impact on the Australian market for digital book publishing is likely to be significantly greater than the impact from the impact of print and traditional book publishing.”
Karp warns that this will also mean an impact on booksellers, which are already struggling to compete with Amazon.
“For bookseller operators, Amazon’s dominance is a threat to the existing business model and, as the industry grows and adapts to the digital marketplace, it will also have an impact,” he warns.
“It will take a long time to restore lost market share to booksellors, and it will take significant resources and resources to do so.”
In terms of the future of publishing, the future is unclear.
In the last few years, the Australian Government has been backing Amazon in the digital space.
As part of a multi-billion-dollar strategy, the Prime Minister has funded a series of initiatives including an initiative to make online education more accessible to the unbanked and the low-income.
And last month, the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport announced that digital books would be made free on Amazon in 2020.