Bertelsmann is to close its German-language book club business because of a “decreasing willingness of customers to enter into purchase commitments”.
Customers will still get catalogues and be able to order books for the time being, but the book club and direct marketing business in Germany, Austria and Switzerland will shut by the end of 2015.
In a statement, Penguin Random House’s parent company Bertelsmann said that DirectGroup Germany “has been systematically downsizing the company for several years now to reflect the declining volume of business”.
There are 52 branches of the club in Germany, and “many hundreds of thousands of members”, but the business will shut “due to a lack of economic prospects”.
Fernando Carro, responsible for the club and direct marketing businesses on Bertelsmann’s Group Management Committee, said: "The decision to close our German-language club and direct marketing businesses was not easy.
“Despite extensive attempts to further develop the club model it is now clear that the club’s business model no longer has any viable economic prospects.
“The decreasing willingness of customers to enter into purchase commitments, which has been ongoing for many years now, has been exacerbated by the profound changes seen in book retail in recent years.
“Unfortunately, and despite the successful expansion of businesses in other areas and our colleagues’ many innovative concepts, this development could not be offset."
Christoph Mittendorf, c.e.o. of DirectGroup Germany, said: "In the months ahead, our focus will be on dealing with our staff and customers in a spirit of responsibility and partnership.
“We will enter into discussions with employee representatives right away, so that we can jointly develop a reconciliation of interests and a redundancy program as soon as possible."