Dymocks still keen to sell ebooks, says NZ manager Andrew Howard

When news broke in the DomPost this week that Dymocks in New Zealand had shelved its ebook plans, it looked like we were about to take a step backwards in getting ebooks established here.

Plans by the Dymocks bookstore chain to sell ebooks in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore have had the industry talking for a year. It’s been terrific publicity for Dymocks and shows how much attention you can get by making an early move in a new market. My original post on this topic was dated 13 December 2007 and it’s still one of the most viewed posts.

According to this week’s DomPost story:

Dymocks has put plans to introduce digital books in New Zealand back on the shelf.
The bookseller planned to install kiosks dispensing digital books in its stores early this year, but New Zealand general manager Andrew Howard says the project has been put on hold.
“At this stage I want more security on the robustness of the development before we share it with customers.”

I spoke to Dymock’s Andrew Howard about where they’re at and when they expect to make an ebook move in New Zealand. He wouldn’t commit to a date but says they’re still actively working  behind the scenes, particularly in Australia where the initiative is centred. For New Zealand, it will be mostly “a copy and paste” of the Australian system, he says. But not completely. “The key piece is having New Zealand content,” acknowledging its importance to a credible local operation.

To this end, the remarks by major publishing company CEOs at the recent Digital Publishing Forum seminars will be encouraging. They already have a good chunk of their recent books digitsised with more on the way and will be keen to support a strong and early retail presence for ebooks in New Zealand.

One of the components of Dymocks’ earlier strategy, which is still largely confined to the George Street, Sydney store, was its support for the iLiad ebook reader. This might change as the group is evaluating other options in a field that’s seen quite a few new entrants in recent months and more on the horizon.

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