Australia's bookshops to close down in five years?

Federal Small Business Minister Nick Sherry, speaking on the benefits of online shopping, said: "In five years, other than a few specialist booksellers in capital cities, we will not see a bookstore, they will cease to exist."

Scott Ryan, opposition parliamentary secretary for small business, said the comment was "unsurprising" given the government's poor track record on helping out bookstores, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported.

In 2009, the government chose to maintain import restrictions that would have delivered cheaper books for stores and consumers, but at a cost to the local publishing industry. Big booksellers argued it would make it harder to compete with online retailers.

"Booksellers in Australia have every right to be angry," Ryan said.

"Nick Sherry should be encouraging the prospects and aspirations of small business, not predicting doom and gloom and the end of book retailing - especially when one of the major problems for domestic book sales is a direct result of Labor policy."

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