Just shortly after the downfall of Borders in the United States word is out that the Australian book chains have been placed into voluntary administration by its private equity owners. They are not the only ones. Along with them are Angus & Robertson and the Whitcoulls chain in New Zealand. These locations are also where the Kobo e-reader is sold within the region. With what is going on right now roughly 2,500 people could be without jobs shortly.
The Borders chain of the U.S. and the one in Australia are a part of different corporations and as such are not closing because of one corporation’s decision, but they are however greatly affected by the same problems. Sales of books on the internet continue to rise and this has been affected consumer sales from ever since it became popular among book lovers.
REDgroup, the company that has Borders of Australia on its portfolio has been going through troubling times. With constant bank problems they were forced to call in administrators. Borders is in the clear at the moment but its future is uncertain.
Angus & Robertson as well as Whitcoulls are long standing businesses that have been in business since the late 1800s. They are now experiences the same sales concerns as Borders in Australia.
In a statement released by the newly appointed administrators business operations will carry on as normal while an assessment of the business’s financial status was being carried out. The statement went on to say that the first meeting of the creditors would likely take place during the first week of March.
Existing customers with book vouchers should still be able to take advantage of them though it remains to be seen what the new administrators’ final ruling on them will be.
Where Does This Leave the Kobo?
With Borders and Whitcoulls in jeopardy what does that mean for Kobo e-reader sales? The Kobo wireless e-reader was just launched at these locations this past November in order to meet the demands of the holiday season. Along with that REDgroup Retail expanded its ebook line-up which led to several major publishers adding their titles to their library.
Being the largest bookstore group in Australia with more than 2.5 million titles and the main distributor of the Kobo e-reader they had plans to use the Kobo to increase revenue with sales of the device and online titles. If these locations shutdown the Kobo ad its Australian user base could be left out in the cold. While some websites offer books for sale to a wide array of countries there are books that simply cannot be sold in these areas due to copyright laws. Users could experience a decrease in the amount of books they are allowed to purchase in their region since they would have few places to buy from.
As volunteer administrators sort out the pieces all we can do it wait and see what will become of Borders and Whitcoulls. In terms of Kobo sales in the region either consumers will rush to snatch them up while they can or they will hold off since support for the devices in their area could be questionable. That would lead to even fewer in-store sales.