Australia’s oldest bookshop is closing

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Birchalls, Australia’s oldest bookshop, is closing its doors after more than 170 years in Tasmania.

The Launceston store opened for business in November 1844 at its current site as a seller of “books, stationery and fancy goods”.

The main building has been sold but a buyer hasn’t been found to take over the business and its four stores.

Managing director Graeme Tilley says the “heartbreaking” decision was made to stop trading. The Tilley family has owned the store for almost 50 years.

“We get customers from all over Australia saying that they love the store and when they come to visit Launceston they come into the shop,” he told the ABC.

The stores employs 35 people. The company is in talks to sell parts of the business.

Revenue in the book industry is about $1.5 billion a year. According to analysts IBISWorld, the book publishing industry in Australia is shrinking at a rate of about 2.2% a year.

“Consumers are increasingly buying print books and e-books online, rather than shopping at local bookstores,” says IBISWorld.