Remainders of the day: The collapse of Angus & Robertson and the culture of bookselling in Australia


Been, Carly Johanna. (2012). Remainders of the day: The collapse of Angus & Robertson and the culture of bookselling in Australia [Thesis].
AuthorsBeen, Carly Johanna
Qualification nameMaster of Philosophy (MPhil)

Bookselling in Australia has altered irreversibly since the collapse of REDgroup Retail, owner of the Angus & Robertson and Borders brands. A popular but misleading explanation in the media for the REDgroup collapse was the emergence of eBooks and other competitive technologies. While the essential cause of the business failure was debt, the supermarket philosophy of the management team produced a corporate model of bookselling destined to fail as they lost sight of books as their primary product and the cultural value attached to the object of the book. Other significant factors that contributed to the collapse were the proliferation of similar format bookstores in close proximity to each other, failing to offer a point of difference between REDgroup chain stores and other competing bookstores, and being unable to effectively compete on price with discount department stores. Other indirect issues that continue to concern the industry include relationships between booksellers and publishers, the changing nature of the parallel importation debate, competition from other media and the financial and environmental cost of distribution. The failure of REDgroup was the end point of a corporate model of bookselling that the industry in Australia could not accept, but there were many problems that caused the collapse, with technology seized on by the media as a simple answer to a complex set of circumstances.Booksellers contribute to the cultural and commercial life of Australia by fostering a book buying and book reading culture. Independent bookstore owners are the key to sustaining a strong bricks-and-mortar bookselling industry as they continue to foster a sense of connectedness with the wider book community. Providing experiences to engage an existing or prospective book buyer is one of the main ways bookstores promote connectedness, with the ambience and experience of in-store events impossible to replicate online.

PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Research GroupSchool of Arts
Final version
Publication dates01 Nov 2012
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