Content Crossroads & Distribution Junction
It is important to point out that the 2004 “Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America” study by the National Endowment for the Arts, which showed an overall decline of 10 percent in literary readers from 1982 to 2002, focused on literary works, not nonfiction books, Schroeder says. “Recently, Americans have been in a very serious mood and reading a lot more nonfiction, so that should be taken into account.”
Used Books a Bigger Factor Than Most Believe
Used-book sales are on the rise, and this creates more competition for publishers’ products and increased awareness in alternative forms to traditional distribution.
According to Schroeder, if a consumer knows what they want, they will go to Amazon.com or other sites, but that if they just want to browse they will still make the trips out to the bookstores. “If they can go directly to the publisher, they just might,” she says.
In 2004, used-book sales topped $2.2 billion, representing more than 11 million used books sold and 8.4 percent of total consumer spending on books according to BISG’s “Used-Book Sales: A Study of the Behavior, Structure, Size and Growth of the U.S. Used-Book Market.”
“There are many factors behind the increase we are seeing in used-book sales, but in my view the most important is the visibility of the used book, enabled by the development of Web-based bookselling,” says Healy.
According to Healy, large booksellers like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble have increased significantly their coverage of used and out-of-print books. Another factor is the development of compelling used-book sites like AbeBooks.com.
“As a result, customers who had originally intended to buy a new copy are often attracted by lower-priced used versions of the same title,” says Smith.
Compensating for Rising Fuel and Paper Costs