Australians launch book superstores in face of U.S. invasion

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MELBOURNE -- Major Australian retail group Coles Myer Ltd is planning a national chain of book "superstores" ahead of the entry of U.S. book chain Borders Group in mid-1998. Borders will open an outlet at Village Roadshow's Jam Factory in Melbourne and says it will expand nationally in 1999.

Named Discovery, the Myer book stores are likely to follow Borders successful formula of cafes, reading rooms and customer lounges. The operation will be an extension of the national Myer Sport and Myer Electric concept stores.

But Australia's first book superstore, also complete with cafe and reading room, will be opened by Collins Booksellers in Sydney's Broadway Shopping Centre, near Sydney University, on April 2. Collins is being supported by substantial discounts from local publishers alarmed that Borders will undermine their exclusive territorial copyright arrangements.

"Myers' move is pretty brave," says Michael Zifcak, Collins' executive chairman. "Given the experience they had the last time they did something like that -- challenge Toys 'R' Us with their World 4 Kids -- you'd have to say it is courageous." Mr. Zifcak says Collins is replacing its smaller book stores in regional shopping centers with much larger stores in city centers.

Copyright January 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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