Booktopia, Australia’s dominant online bookseller, is fighting for survival. Today, CEO David Nenke, who joined the company from Barnes & Noble Education in May 2023, resigned. This follows the departure of chief financial officer Fiona Levens on May 15.

The company, which saw booming sales during the pandemic and rapidly expanded after its initial public offering in 2020, has seen sales plummet over the past few years. For the six months ending December 31, the most recent period for which data is available, Booktopia reported a $A16.7 million loss, compared to a $A3.9 million loss for the same period a year earlier; earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization fell 34%, showing a $A1.8 million loss. During the period, revenue fell 22%, to A$86.3 million, with units shipped down 21%, falling to 3.1 million.

Booktopia said that it will lay off at least 50 people at its headquarters, aiming to save $A6.1 million in the 2024-25 financial year, according to reports from the Australian Associated Press. The company withdrew its earnings guidance issued in February, which had projected a profit of $A1–$A3 million for the 2023-24 financial year.

The company is also borrowing money to cover costs associated with the layoffs, securing a $A1 million revolving debt facility with AFSG Capital at an 18% interest rate. The company issued $400,000 in shares to secure the arrangement, and agreed to pay $200,000 upon its first borrowing, with GST on top of these fees, bringing the total cost to $660,000.

Furthermore, as a cost-saving measure, Booktopia's directors have agreed to receive their fees in the form of shares for the next six months.

Publicly, much of the blame for the company’s decline has been placed on founder and former company executive Tony Nash, whose move to greatly expand Booktopia’s operations during the early years of pandemic was viewed as hubristic; he was forced out of the company by the board in 2022. That said, the company has also noted that inflation and cost cutting among consumers have cut into its sales.

For the past few weeks Booktopia’s share price has hovered around $A0.6 per share, a significant drop from the $A2.99 high in August 2021. Today, it has a market capitalization of a bit more than $A13 million.