The news comes hot on the heels of a swathe of cutbacks at the internet giant, with two separate rounds of layoffs impacting at least 27,000 people across various divisions including its highly profitable AWS cloud unit and and its devices and books businesses.
Founded out of Gloucester, the U.K., in 2004 by Andrew Crawford and Stuart Felton, Book Depository (initially called The Book Depository) was a direct competitor to Amazon’s flagship online bookselling business, shipping millions of books to readers in more than 100 countries. At the time of the acquisition, some feared that it signalled a tightening of Amazon’s “stranglehold” over the U.K.’s online book trade, a fear that may have had more than a little foundation. However, despite industry protests, the deal ultimately received regulatory approval, with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) affirming at the time that Book Depository wasn’t a true competitor owing to its relative size.
In the intervening years, Amazon has done little to integrate Book Depository, from a branding perspective at least. Indeed, there has never been any visible indication on Book Depository’s website that it’s owned by Amazon, an approach that it has taken to other similar acquisitions it has made in the space such as Goodreads, a social reading platform it bought in 2013.
First reported by publishing industry trade outlet The Bookseller earlier today (paywalled), Book Depository has now posted a closure announcement on its website, revealing that it will cease to exist after April 26, 2023. Customers will still be able to place orders online until midday (BST) on that day, and the company said it will fulfil all orders and continue to provide support through June 23, 2023.
In truth, none of this should really come as much of a surprise given activities elsewhere at Amazon in recent times, particularly with Amazon CEO Andy Jassy previously confirming that its books business would be hit by the layoffs.
Elsewhere though, Amazon confirmed a few weeks back that it was shuttering esteemed camera review site DPReview, another U.K.-based entity that it had bought initially in 2007. And last year, Amazon revealed it was shuttering dozens of physical retail locations in the U.S. and U.K., including its brick-and-mortar bookstores, while it’s also pulling the plug on some of its cashierless Amazon Go stores. The company is also in the process of winding down its consumer-focused file-storage service Amazon Drive.
It’s not clear how many people worked on the Book Depository side of its business, or whether any of them will be redeployed elsewhere. An Amazon spokesperson simply confirmed to TechCrunch that they have “taken the difficult decision to close Book Depository,” without providing any further details.
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Photo and Author: Paul Sawers