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Australian eBook Market Heats Up

JB Books The Australian electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi clearly wasn’t satisfied with simply selling Kindle, Sony, Kobo, and other ereaders because they launched their own ebookstore this weekend.

JB Hi-Fi Books sells ebooks in Epub and PDF from all the major publishers, including Hachette, Lonely Planet, Penguin, Random House, Allen & Unwin, Pan Macmillan, HarperCollins, and Text Publishing. The ebooks can be read on JB Hi-Fi’s newly released Android and iOS apps as well as on most ereaders.

This chain has around 180 stores across Australia, and serves a national population of about 23 million. In addition to selling ebooks, JB H-Fi also has a streaming music service. Both the ebooks and the music service are only available to Australian residents, and ebook buyers will need a mobile phone number before they will be able to purchase content.

That sounds like a strange move on the part of JB Hi-Fi, shutting out part of the market. On the other hand the latest available stats show that there are around 10 million smartphones in Australia, and around 15% of the population have a tablet (both stats from September 2012).

There is no mention of plans to release a branded ereader, and I do not expect them to do so. This chain already sells quite a few compatible models so there is little reason to invest directly in hardware. On the other hand, I would not have expected JB Hi-Fi to launch an ebookstore in the first place, so what do I know.

As I look back over the past 6 months, it’s beginning to look like ebooks are a low-cost, moderately profitable investment for retailers. In addition to JB Hi-Fi, other chains including Dymocks as well as Sainsbury’s and Tesco (both in the UK) have invested in ebookstores. Sony and Samsung also continue to invest in their ebookstores by offering better reviews, rich content, and improved support for Epub3.


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Puzzled April 22, 2013 um 5:46 pm

JB has a branded ereader, it’s a Yellowstone (one of their house brands) and is a generic cheap LCD ereader.

Not really sure why they are requiring a mobile phone number, but a lot of places down here prefer to communicate with you via SMS.

Puzzled April 22, 2013 um 5:59 pm

The use of the mobile phone guarantees that the account is Australian, so you can geoshift to purchase from another country.

It also makes creating an account very easy, all you need is your mobile number, the pin they send you, your postcode (probably for marketing purposes) and an email address. And you have to make up a password.

Considering all their product is electronically delivered, they really don’t need any other info.

They didn’t even ask for my name…

Angela Booth April 23, 2013 um 1:14 am

I can’t see myself switching from One-Click at Amazon, but I doubt that I’m their target market. It will be interesting to see whether their estore grows, or whether they drop it.

Ingo Lembcke April 23, 2013 um 7:58 am

There may be books, which are not available at Amazon. Two (although printed) books I imported come to mind:
Craig Harrison: The Quiet Earth (from NZ) and Andrew Hutchinson: Rohypnol (AU).
Although I have just checked, Quiet Earth was already OOP when I bought it, so no surprise there and it is not available as an ebook yet, imho, the other is even in Germany available as a Kindle eBook, since 2010, I have bought Rohypnol before that.

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