Amazon’s march of conquest in the book market continues at pace. The percentage of print-book readers using the online giant rose 7% between 2014 and 2016, with two thirds of all book buyers using Amazon.
The UK has only one large remaining national high street chain focused specifically on books– Waterstones, which has about 30% of the non-Amazon market. Most of the remainder is taken by WHSmith, which has about 25% of it, the Works, with 15%, and Tesco, with 13%. The others, including Blackwells and Foyles, have only a few per cent each.
The independent bookshop sector is not faring well. There are still 894 independent bookshops in the UK, but since 2005, the number has fallen by 42%.
The anti-social finance category broken down
Our worst rating for the likely use of tax avoidance strategies was awarded to Alibris, Waterstones, Abebooks, Nook, Apple, Google, the Book Depository, Tesco and Amazon. Our middle rating went to Kobo and WH Smith. All others got our best rating.
The following companies were marked down for excessive directors pay: WH Smith (highest wage £3.9 million), Nook (highest wage $2,9 million), Google (highest wage over $100 million), The Works (highest paid £1.8 million), Tesco (highest paid £4.6 million) and Apple (five people received over $25 million).
Environmental reporting and supply chain management
This is not a sector brimming with corporate social responsibility policies.
We expect companies to discuss their key environmental impacts, be taking measures to reduce them, and to present independently audited environmental performance data. But hardly any of them were - every company but WH Smith, Tesco and Better World Books got our worst rating for Environmental Reporting.
On the management of workers' rights in supplier companies (Supply Chain Management category on the table), the only companies that got a best rating were WH Smith, Tesco and Oxfam. Apple got a middle, and all the others we rated got a worst. We did not rate Ebooks.com and NearSt in this category because they are digital-only and don’t sell physical goods.
As books are made of paper, this is a key area for this sector, and we rated all of the shops that sell paper books on their published policies on timber sourcing. To achieve a best rating we expect to see a commitment to not source illegal or unsustainable timber but to use a high percentage of FSC certified timber or recycled paper.
Oxfam, Tesco and WH Smith both had good policies.
As far as we could find, none of the others had a wood sourcing policy.