Bookseller claims Ryanair baggage policy affects sales

Thu, Mar 22, 2012, 00:00

THE DIRECTOR of an independent Irish-owned book chain has blamed Ryanair’s baggage allowance for a drop in sales, saying it is discouraging people from taking books on holiday.

Frank O’Mahony of O’Mahony’s Booksellers, which operates four shops and a warehouse in the midwest and southwest, said yesterday that demand for holiday reads in summertime had dipped.

While the growth of ebooks had affected traditional book sales, the Ryanair baggage regime was having a far bigger impact, he said.

“Traditionally during the summer time you would have people buying three or four or five books at a time for holiday reads and we have found that this has dipped dramatically, and I believe the Ryanair baggage allowance is the reason for this.”

The Ryanair baggage allowance was “detrimental” to summertime book sales, Mr O’Mahony said.

Ryanair currently allows one item of cabin baggage per person weighing up to 10kg. The weight of an average hardback book is about 1.3kg, with paperbacks weighing 300g.

Ryanair passengers also have to fit their books into their cabin baggage, at maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm. Passengers with the airline can check in luggage weighing up to either 15kg or 20kg for a fee.

Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara dismissed Mr O’Mahony’s contention as “complete rubbish”.

“Passengers are packing what they always packed. There is no basis for what he is saying at all. It is absolutely ridiculous,” he said.

O’Mahony’s operates four shops in Limerick, Co Kerry and Co Clare employing 76 people. Mr O’Mahony’s grandfather, JP O’Mahony established the Limerick-based company’s first store in 1902 on Limerick’s O’Connell Street. The business still runs its flagship store at the same location.

Mr O’Mahony said he was “happy as you can be in the current climate”, with the company returning to profit last year to record a pretax profit of €85,965 in the 12 months to the end of February.

This follows the company recording a pretax loss of €101,651 in 2010, the main reason for which being a €269,212 write-down in a subsidiary.

Mr O’Mahony said the book business was “under a lot of pressure, but I don’t see the sales of traditional book-selling disappearing at all”. He said sales of ebooks would take away some market share, adding claims for such sales had been overhyped.