SINGAPORE, April 8 — During the Covid-19 circuit breaker period, content creator Natalie Tan ordered five or six books “every other week” from Book Depository, as it was the cheapest online bookstore and going to the library was not an option at the time.
“Book Depository helped me survive the pandemic,” she said.
Tan, 27, was among 10 avid readers TODAY spoke to yesterday (April 5) who lamented the news that the online bookseller, which has been around since 2004, is closing shop on April 26 amid cost-cutting measures by owner Amazon.
Tan said: “I was literally looking at stuff the other day and was going to wait because there were too many options, but now I might just make a giant purchase before they close.”
In interviews with TODAY, the readers called the impending loss “heartbreaking” and “tragic”. Some thought it may have been a belated April fool’s day prank.
Founded in 2004, the United Kingdom-based bookseller started with the aim of offering for sale more than six million titles covering a wide variety of genres and topics.
Initially regarded as a rival to Amazon, Book Depository was acquired by the global giant in 2011 and run as a separate entity.
British news outlet The Guardian reported that the decision to close Book Depository came as part of wider cuts outlined by Amazon in January in its devices and books businesses owing to an “uncertain economy”.
Affordable pricing, free shipping
Popular among book lovers and book publishers, Book Depository has long been celebrated for its affordable pricing and its wide catalogue.
“I was definitely shocked when I heard the news, and at first I thought it was an April Fool’s joke!” said office worker Nicole Goh, 25.
Goh said that she was an avid reader and had often used Book Depository to find books she couldn’t source locally. She added: “It definitely made books accessible for many people and I’ll miss it a lot.”
Tan Min Young, 22, told TODAY: “I’ll miss Book Depository because they offer many books with various choices of editions and covers at very affordable pricing with free international shipping to my doorstep. Without them, I think I’ll rely more on libraries and reduce my buying.”
Having always found the titles that she wanted from Book Depository, Syaqila Suzaini, 23, said that she would miss the convenience as the platform offered affordable titles.
Another fan of the online store, social media manager Joe Tan, 28, called Book Depository’s closure “tragic”.
He referred to the bookseller as a sort of “dear friend” to many young readers given its affordable prices, which he had appreciated during his days as a student.
Some customers said that they will miss the free bookmarks that came with their orders.
Freelance art director Roycelyn To, 31, recalls feeling amused and quite pleased when she received a partial order rather than a complete order. This meant she would receive an additional bookmark.
“I actually have a lot of the bookmarks now,” laughed To.
Amalina Basri, 33, also looked forward to receiving the bookmarks.
“The packages take a while to come but it’ll come packed nicely with bookmarks for every book you purchase,” she said.
Loss of access to independent authors
Beyond the bestsellers and the trending books, Book Depository also served as a valuable resource for readers such as Diana Lim, 35, who seek independent authors at an affordable price.
“The closure of Book Depository would not only mean that it will be more challenging to discover new up and coming authors, but also signal the declining rate of literary culture preservation,” she said.
Legal executive Trizia May, 32, also enjoys reading books by independent authors and believes that Book Depository’s closure will mean a loss of access to more independent authors.
Service standards for online retailers often vary but for Sabine Chen, Book Depository’s service was something which kept her returning to the online bookseller.
Chen, 24, told TODAY that she was “heartbroken” when she heard the news and recalled a time when Book Depository went the extra mile for her when she wanted to purchase a book that had gone out of print.
“They emailed me to say they were taking extra time to locate and mail me the last copy they could find,” she said.
“It’s that kind of personal care and attention to avid readers that makes Book Depository such a beloved household name amongst book lovers of all ages.” ― TODAY