Book Depository + more things
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Online bookseller Book Depository is closing down with some three weeks notice. It wasn’t a topic at work and barely made a ripple amongst British friends. The Hong Kong part of my social media bubble shared the news and were sad about it. The company had been owned by Amazon since 2011. I used it for a few reasons:
- Free postage anywhere. I have friends around the world and Book Depository was a good way of sending a gift book. It made the process of international gifting so much easier. I bought a set of books there as recently as last week. Many of the upset people on social media were from Australasia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia
- Getting hold of English books when I lived in Hong Kong. At the time I lived in Hong Kong there were a couple of nice chains that did English language books, but if I wanted something for my professional life or esoteric interests, then online made more sense. Dymocks, Eslite and the various independent stores would only get you so far. For everything else Book Depository helped out. This was partly down to book shops being a ‘lifestyle’ in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia. They carefully curate fiction but aren’t necessarily like the university book shops I spent my teens and twenties in
- Arbitrage. Despite being owned by Amazon, there were a number of items that I bought where there was a price difference between Book Depository and their parent company
- You could find a particular edition or format, with Amazon it could be a bit of a lottery
- It isn’t full of tat like Amazon. Amazon Marketplace has been both a blessing and a curse. Amazon hasn’t done a good enough job curating Marketplace. I found Marketplace useful at the beginning, rather like a fixed-price eBay. Now its a dystopian retail experience littered with a substantial minority of counterfeit products and sub-standard garbage
- Their ask the author section provided some interesting reading.
I always had it in my mind as ‘The Book Depository’ rather than Book Depository. It’s always the way I discussed it with other people. I had to go back and edit stray ‘The’s that slipped into this post.
Book Depository is being closed by Amazon as part of cost cutting across its book and device categories. There is a certain irony in Alexa being in full retreat just at the time when LLMs were about to turn up. Alexa skills are likely to get loss in the subsequent withdrawal and LLM expansion. Book Depository helped plug gaps on the map where Amazon didn’t have native businesses. The decline of Book Depository implies an upper limit to Amazon’s global retail expansion.
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