Of course, Nick Sherry may have exaggerated or the newspapers may be taking a spin on the story. The claim is:
Nick Sherry had predicted that online shopping would wipe out general bookstores within five years.
I think in five years, other than a few specialist booksellers in capital cities we will not see a bookstore, they will cease to exist.
My own view is that the Minister for Small Business is fundamentally correct, although I think 5 years is probably a bit too short in terms of time frame. But certainly over the next decade, the current type of bookstore will largely go the way of the vinyl record store, the full-service petrol station and the blacksmith. They will be nostalgic memories. Those retailers who survive will have adapted. Some music sellers have done this by successive moves into new products (although I am not sure where they go when movies move on-line). And I do not have a simple answer for booksellers, video stores, or other retailers who face growing internet competition. If I had the answer I would be a rich entrepreneur, not a lowly academic.
But what struck me most about the story was the reaction to Senator Sherry’s comments: horror, disbelief and a view that (apparently) a Small Business Minister should only make comments that (falsely) buoy small business. In my view, this type of honest and open statement from a Minister should be greeted with relief, not disapproval. And the booksellers that take note of the Senator’s comments and act today may have a chance of being around in 5-10 years time.