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Final chapter for book distributor Scribo

Monday, 04 July 2011
By Print 21 Online Article

PMP scraps its book distribution business with the loss of 50 jobs as online sales eats into local book buying.

A corporate review by PMP failed to come up with a buyer for Australia’s largest independent book distributor. A lack of high profile best sellers and the rise of e-books – exempt from GST – spelled the end for the company.

Richard Allely, CEO of PMP says the Scribo business has been running at a loss, “losing money every month. We made an announcement in February 2011 that we would be doing a strategic review of the Scribo business.

“The option of continuing the business at an operating loss versus closing the business was compelling. We have done everything we can to minimise the impact of the closure but the reality is, notwithstanding all of our efforts, the structural changes in this market have rendered this business unprofitable.”

Scribo represents over 200 publishers to the ANZ book market from overseas and locally, including the US, UK, Europe, Asia, Canada and NZ.

The closure of this local book distributor follows closely to the fall of REDgroup, with many Borders and Angus and Robertson stores shutting down. “The closure of REDGroup wasn’t the final blow, but one of many issues Scribo was dealing with,” said Alley.

According to Maree McCaskill (pictured), CEO, Australian Publishers Association, since scribo was one of the few book distributers to take single titles, “self-publishers, or small publishers who have released one book in the last year will feel the real challenge. Its un-economical for most distributes to have a single title, because they often work on scale.

“Its not that a lot of publishers will have nowhere to go, its that whether or not the remaining distributes will be able to facilitate those publishers who might only have single titles,” she said.

The merger of Tower Books, Bookwise International, Gary Allen and Brumby Books & Music formed Scribo in 2008. Gordon and Gotch, a subsidiary of PMP, acquired it in late 2008.

Craig Davison, managing director at Gordon and Gotch Australia and The Scribo Group says the closure will “break up the distribution of books into a larger number of independent distributors. No single distributor will pick up the entire Scribo portfolio; five to six different companies will most likely take it up.”

PMP will continue to operate Brumby Books and Music, as it remains a profitable business model focusing heavily on the gift and non-traditional book market. Scribo will cease invoicing and delivering to retailers on 31 July, 2011.

Local publishers represented by Scribo include Slattery Media Group, The Five Mile Press, Big Sky Publishing, Giramondo, Brolly Books, Rockpool Publishing, Sally Milner, Health Directions, Bloomings Books, Child’s Play, Hunter Publishers, and Melbourne Books.

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