The Publishing Post
Book Depository Shuttered by Amazon
By Megan Whitlock
Book Depository, the online book shop acquired by Amazon in 2011, is due to close by the end of April. Founded in 2004 by ex-Amazon employee Andrew Crawford alongside Stuart Felton, the online store, based in Gloucester, was at one time one of Amazon’s biggest rivals before its acquisition. The closure comes amidst Amazon's elimination of around 18,000 roles [The Guardian] due to the “uncertain economy,” which majorly impacted their Devices and Books divisions.
The Book Depository’s founding motto was to make “all books available to all” and worked on a model of selling “less of more” rather than “more of less.” It pride itself on improving selection, affordability and access, and offered free shipping to over 160 countries. Rather than focusing exclusively on bestsellers, like rival companies, The Book Depository’s initial aim was to sell six million titles covering a variety of topics and genres. The UK-based company was also multi-award winning, having been granted Direct Bookselling Company of the year in 2009 and 2010 from The Bookseller Awards, and ranking fifth in the 2013 Sunday Times Fast Track 100.
Consequently, there was much concern that its 2011 buy-out would only increase Amazon’s dominance over the book-selling market, particularly its extension into the UK. As of 2023, it is reported [WordsRated] that Amazon’s book sales make up 10% of the company’s overall profit and that they remain the biggest bookseller in both the US and worldwide (including being responsible for over 50% of sales from the Big Five publishers). Their cheap prices combined with their market dominance have long since squeezed authors and publishers’ profits, as well as driven rivals and independent bookstores out of business.
The Book Depository’s closure was announced in an email to vendors and publishing partners, where it explained its plan to wind down its online listings and websites. According to their official website, customers who ordered books before the 26 April will still have their purchases delivered. Andy Chart, Head of Vendor Management, is quoted in The Guardian as saying: “I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you, from everyone at Book Depository and our book-loving customers, for your supportive partnership over the years in helping us to make printed books more accessible to readers around the world.”