Academic bookselling at "crisis point" claims Waterstone's MD

Waterstone's has called for academic publishers to "significantly" increase their support for the chain, warning bricks and mortar academic bookselling could vanish from the high street within a few years.

The retailer's m.d. Dominic Myers told delegates at the Bookseller Association’s annual Academic, Professional and Specialist Bookselling Group conference last week that the academic bookselling industry was at a “crisis point,” in which 2011 would be a defining year.

The digital world in which students operate is a particular threat to academic bookselling, Myers said, and the current business model has struggled to maintain pace with the changes. For bricks and mortar academic booksellers to survive the next 12 months, Myers called on academic publishers and booksellers to work more closely together.

“From my perspective academic bookselling actually is at crisis point,” he said opening his presentation. “I believe that booksellers and publishers need a different co-operative model and I think we have to create a paradigm shift in how we address the online market for physical books.”

He also said booksellers and publishers should share more information, such as reading list data, and create an online site making it easy for students to find that information.

“We do want to sell educational books on the high street and on campus and online but only with the right model,” Myers said. “This is actually a tipping point year for this industry – let’s have some honesty between booksellers and publishers and do something about it. This could otherwise be the last year of academic on the high street.”

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