Book e-tailer The Book Depository has been bought by the American online retail giant Amazon for an undisclosed fee, it was announced today.
Established in 2004, the UK based trader made £60 million in sales in the six months to the start of 2011, an improvement of 70 per cent year-on-year, and currently delivers to 102 countries around the world.
It is the second major acquisition of a British online company made by Amazon this year, after the US firm purchased movie rental business Lovefilm in January.
Gregg Greeley, Amazon’s Vice President of European Retail, said: “Customers in more than 100 countries enjoy The Book Depository’s vast selection, convenient delivery and free shipping.
“The Book Depository is very focused on serving its customers around the world, and we look forward to welcoming them to the Amazon family.”
The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, further narrows the field of established booksellers in the UK, following the retreat by Borders from the market in 2009 and the collapse of British Bookstores in January of this year.
High street book stores have been disappearing due to the large overheads involved in running them and falling sales levels, with Waterstone’s the most high profile example of the malaise in the market.
That business has just been sold because its former parent company HMV could not afford to support its losses and 11 of its outlets have been closed so far this year.
Amazon’s dominance of the market has been underlined by its booming trade, in particular in e-books and its Kindle readers, whilst The Book Depository had seemed like one of the only firms which could compete in the same market as the American behemoth.
In an interview with Retail Gazette in March, The Book Depository Managing Director Kieron Smith said: “I guess we have picked up quite a lot of the business from the decline of Borders and Waterstone’s.
“Our revenues have grown in the last two years, so I expect the missing sales from the high street have come to us and Amazon.
“Books are essentially a commodity product. The challenge for high street brands is to function in an effective multichannel way and I don’t think this has ever been grappled head on.”