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In a Huge Blow To Book Lovers Worldwide, Amazon To Close U.K. Retailer Book Depository

books lined up on a shelf with the bottom facing out

In a disappointing but not surprising twist, Amazon has decided to shutter Book Depository, one of the U.K.’s leading online book retailers. The decision to close Book Depository was made as part of a wider set of cutbacks throughout Amazon’s devices and books businesses, which includes a planned 18,000 job redundancies.

Given Book Depository’s history, this loss is all the more tragic. Based in Gloucester, U.K., Book Depository was founded in 2004 with the aim of curating over 6 million different titles to sell, searching beyond the standard international bestseller lists. More recently, Book Depository boasted an offering of over 20 million books, selling their wares worldwide at fair prices and providing avid readers in countries with difficult access to English-language and other international titles with a most valuable resource. Their motto: “All Books To All.

Ironically, Book Depository was founded by Stuart Felton and Andrew Crawford, the latter of whom is an ex-Amazon employee. It was originally a rival to Amazon, and thus Amazon proceeded to buy the company in 2011 to eliminate the competition. At the time, it was feared that the purchase of Book Depository by Amazon would create a stranglehold over the U.K.’s online book trade, as the American behemoth had by then already accrued over 70% of the U.K.’s online book sales.

During the initial takeover, the Guardian reported that both Amazon and Book Depository tried to reassure their customers that nothing would change and that Book Depository would “continue to operate independently.” Sadly, that dream is no more.

What happens to Book Depository now?

Book Depository is getting ready to shut down on 26 April 2023. Customers can place orders until 12 pm BST on that day and expect them to arrive within the usual time frame. After that, the company will no longer accept any new orders. Customer support will be provided until 23 June 2023.

Unfortunately, customers who relied on Book Depository’s far-reaching (and often free) shipping policies will need to look elsewhere. But few retailers have the same amount of stock as Book Depository, and current shipping prices might put off customers from finding new retailers they can trust and afford. Amazon’s international shipping prices can be exorbitant, which probably tells you all you need to know about why this is happening.

In the wake of the news, plenty of loyal Book Depository customers took to Twitter. Though the replies are universally sad about the announcement, the ones that stand out the most are from customers outside of the U.K. and North America—those who live in places in and around Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and more will have a much harder time procuring new books to read.

I have used Book Depository in the past when my local retailers simply didn’t carry the specific title I was looking for anymore. It was a valuable resource, and I can’t imagine how those who relied solely on Book Depository must be feeling right now. Though digital books absolutely have their merits and their accessibility is incredibly important, accessibility to print books is just as vital. Not everyone wants to read on a Kindle, and customers shouldn’t have to be reliant on one single outlet for their books, much less one as monopolistic as Amazon.

(via Guardian, featured image: Tom Hermans on Unsplash)

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El (she/her) has been working as a freelance writer for various entertainment websites for over a year, ever since she successfully completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including franchises like Marvel and Pokémon, but she is happy to pitch in with gaming content once in a while if it concerns one of the few video games she actually knows anything about. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.