The West

The growth of electronic publishing has claimed another victim with the collapse of Australia's biggest supplier of academic books.

Administrators from Ferrier Hodgson were appointed to Melbourne-based DA Information Services last Friday.

The 60-year-old business, which employs about 45 people, supplies books and journals to the academic, professional and library markets in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

Its clients include hospitals, universities, State and national libraries, theological colleges and law libraries. The company also acts as a regional representative for more than 50 US, British and European-based English language publishers.

Joint administrator John Lindholm said that while Ferrier Hodgson was still coming to grips with DA's finances and the reasons behind the failure, the growing preference for ebooks was believed to have been a factor in the collapse.

"Hard-book sale volumes have been declining, with e-products taking a bigger slice, and I think it has been difficult to manage that transition," Mr Lindholm said.

Traditional publishers and booksellers have been seriously squeezed by the rise of ebooks, with a number of high-profile retail book chains going under or forced to reduce store numbers.

DA's major shareholders included investors in the US, Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Mr Lindholm said the business continued to trade and he was hopeful of it being resuscitated or sold as a going concern.

"At the moment, there's a lot of support from the customer base and key suppliers," he said.

"Hopefully, the outcome will be either a sale of the business or a restructure under a deed of company arrangement."

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