Book Clubs are a critical part of our market. In fact many years ago, the late and great Sir William Collins told me that South Africa was the last great fiction market. That it has remained a great fiction market is in no small measure attributable to the unique South African phenomenon of Book Clubs. We value the business; not only for the revenue that it brings us, but also because it is a sure sign of how fiction is trending and what the sensitivities are around this critical element of our book sales.
However, it has been painfully apparent to us for the past two years that the discount structure that has existed for so long is untenable if we are going to remain invested not only in popular Book Club fiction, but also in all those unique and niche areas of fiction publishing that we seek out in order to find and provide the range that any genuine fiction lover would want.
The discounts we receive from publishers have not changed in the 30 months that we have owned this business. What has changed is the Rand price of books when converted from Sterling. The value of our Rand since January 2014, until the very recent Brexit adjustments, had fallen by over 20%. It remains to be seen for how long the Rand will remain at the improved levels of approximately R19/GBP. In the meantime, it is abundantly clear to us that the pressure on prices means that the discount structure that is driven by Rand spend rather than unit numbers is not sustainable for us as a commercial retailer. I appreciate that many Book Clubs may be unhappy. This was not a decision that we took lightly and, I can assure you, that should we find that the Rand converted prices of books reduces, we will respond accordingly and positively in favour of our much valued Book Club customers.
– Benjamin Trisk