Who is the biggest bookstore of them all?

I’d never heard of TheNile.co.nz – but via an advertisement in Geekzone I went there to find that they claim they are New Zealand’s largest bookstore.

That seemed strange – until I noticed the link at the bottom to their Australian site:
the nile au

Ok – so they are also Australia’s largest bookstore. Strange – I could not recall seeing them before.

They back their claim of largeness up with text in their About pages – here is the NZ one, where they claim 2.4m books in stock, though that means in-stock at their suppliers who could be anywhere in the world. Indeed in these days of print on demand (Amazon does a lot of that) what does “in stock” mean anyway?

But I’d always thought that Amazon was the World’s biggest bookstore – which would make it the biggest in Australia and New Zealand.
However they have dropped that tagline – I guess it is meaningless these days.

Meanwhile MightyApe was voted the best, and don’t claim to be biggest:

But FishPond claims to be “New Zealand’s Biggest Online Store” – a phrase which for some reason is trade marked. That trade mark won’t help them if it is wrong.

In Australia Fishpond claim to be “Australasia’s Biggest Online Store”, also trade marked. That’s not inconsistent with TheNile’s “Book Store”claim for Australia alone, but is with the other TheNile Claims.
Fishpond Au

The facts

FishPond’s “What is FishPond” page shows 1.9m books and “just over 2m titles”. That’s less than TheNile, so perhaps they need to take down their tagline, or explain what they mean by “Biggest”.

But before TheNile gets too happy – perhaps they should check out the claims of SeekBooks.com.au (2 million discounted books since 1999) – also available in NZ at seekbooks.co.nz with a mere 1.2m discounted books. Perhaps they are bigger now?

More interestingly there is Booktopia, who claim over 3m books on their Australian site. Actually Booktopia – one question: Why do you claim over 3m books in your Google ads?

When on your site you claim to have only 2m? Is that kosher? You also claim to be “Australia’s Fastest Growing Online Bookstore” – how do you know?

So who is the biggest of them all? Do we care any more?

I don’t. I use the sites that are the most welcoming and the easiest to use. Right now that’s Amazon, Fishpond and MightyApe. Meanwhile the Kindle and print on demand is changing everything for these stores – why do I need Fishpond if I am downloading books instantly to my Kindle from the USA, or if Amazon can print them locally?

If the facts are right between the two bookstores then TheNile can rightfully complain to the NZ and Australian ASAs that Fishpond and Booktopia are making false claims.

Before Fishpond reasserts their claim in another way, perhaps they should consider that Trade Me and eBay Australia can rightfully complain that they deserve a higher place in the biggest “store” stakes based on total transactions and yearly listings, especially given that a substantial proportion of what each sells is fixed price and new. Even the books numbers will be interesting.

They should also consider Qantas and Air New Zealand, who can probably claim biggest “store” stakes based on total transaction revenue – given that their ticket sales are increasingly sourced from their own websites.

Published by Lance Wiggs


12 replies on “Who is the biggest bookstore of them all?”

  1. Try Good Books, well priced, good availability (I’ve got books on game theory to novels) and a warm fuzzy feeling that money goes to Oxfam. Plus doesn’t make any claims about being the biggest or the best.


    * delivery times can be longish though..


  2. Puffery is everywhere and a part of life – so that is fine. Biggest, best, fastest – a myriad a companies across all manner of industries make absurd statements about their products all the time and that’s just marketing. Sure, TheNile may wish to hold Fishpond to account on this but really the only winners out of that will be the lawyers.

    But what is ridiculous is some chump’s idea to trademark that sentence. I noticed it a few weeks back when I went to see the fishpond site to see how it was faring up against the new MightyApe. The first thing that I noticed was the stupid little “TM” next to that sentence. Who knows, maybe someone liked the way those little letters looked. You trademark something that symbolises your business.. “just do it”, “the real thing”. If IPONZ rubber stamp this application then there’s something inherently wrong with the system.


  3. I find it quite funny when i hear some of these ‘online’ bookshops claim to be the biggest in Australia or the biggest in NZ because it’s irrelevant. what’s the point of having 2 million or 3 million books on your database if only between 60 and 80% of them are actually available. books, especially Australian printed books, go out of stock fairly quickly these days because publishers have fairly small print runs. Once the title is out of stock at the publisher they keep taking back orders and if there is sufficient demand they will do another print run. If not then tough. If the title is printed overseas a similar rule applies. The publisher will import a certain number and when they are gone then will again take back orders until they decide if they want to import another bulk lot. I think these online store can rightfully claim to have the biggest database but it’s my opinion that to claim to be the biggest shop they actually need to have a shop with stock.


  4. Hi Lance.
    Nice montage.
    Biggest and Best claims seem old fashioned these days …
    With choice abound and size not always equating to quality of service .. It’s time for a new differentiator online.

    Credibility, trust, easy to use interface, smooth transaction, reliable delivery, a feeling that someone is there to help. .. and of course word of mouth recommendation are some attributes which customers use to measure their experience of online retailers.

    Don’t you think it’s in combination, rather than isolation that these factors need to work hard to define a ‘best’ player?


  5. First – you are using the wrong statistic. Go to fishpond.co.nz or fishpond.com.au and you’ll see Fishpond has:
    2,484,805 Books · 24,228 DVDs · 2,227 Games
    as of 11 December. The ‘what is fishpond’ page you quoted is obviously out of date.

    So yes, Fishpond is the biggest online bookstore in Australasia, and and website rankings support this and can be verified through hitwise statistics and alexa statistics. Also, FirstRate did a paper on this and I’ve hyperlinked the research.

    Fishpond #1 in NZ – Hitwise

    Fishpond #1 in AU – Hitwise

    Hitwise top ten AU websites:

    Fishpond Marketshare Overtaking Amazons

    Click to access FirstRateReport-Whitcoulls-Vs-Fishpond.pdf

    Alexa Global Website Rankings (the lower the better) –
    go to alexa.com and type in various websites – you’ll see that the nile has VERY VERY low ranking, and fishpond is higher than everyone elses (note: fishpond.com.au and fishpond.co.nz are separate websites)

    I think this is all pretty hard to disagree with.


  6. @todd I wouldn’t trust HitWise or Aleza data at all. If the companies could show their Google Analytics, Quantcast (Quantified) or Nielsen Online data then you might get some better comparisons.


  7. It happens because “ships within 24 hours” means, it will ship from their warehouse or their suppliers warehouse within 24hrs. If you order multiple books in many cases they are from different suppliers, and if suppliers offer drop shipping it is a lot faster to ship direct from the supplier (doesn’t have to pass through two warehouses).

    In some cases, books are packaged in USA/AU/UK bulk shipped to NZ and then dispatched.


  8. I highly recommend the book depository, free shipping worldwide, which often means they come out cheaper than amazon. Also – http://www.booko.com.au is a comparison engine that finds the cheapest online price to get a book or DVD in Australia (taking into account shipping), useful for comparisons between the online stores. Unfortunately there is no NZ version, but you can usually make assumptions from the aussie price.


  9. You need fishpond because Kindle a) is not in New Zealand and b) when it does arrive in NZ it will be just like it is in Australia, where it has to (and does) respect territorial copyright law, and drastically reduces the number of titles you are able to download to the several hundred thousand (as opposed to the 5m + books in existance).


  10. Hi, the largest actual real bookstore in NZ with real books in it is Hard to Find Books in Onehunga, Auckland (about 90,000 titles). This is about to be surpassed by the online arm of the same business which is opening a store in Dunedin in late June with perhaps as many as 300,000 actual books (currently with 57,000 of them online at http://www.hardtofind.co.nz). If a store does not actually have the physical books in its possession all it really has is the largest LIST of books… and any store who wants to list all the books currently in print can do that.All the stores you lit here fall into that category – they’re all pants and no trousers! :-)


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