Borders Closes Stores in 200-Plus Cities: What Lies on the Retail Horizon?
Offline-Only = Off Course
Another way to reach new customers is through robust e-commerce. "Any bookseller who is not selling online is almost certainly missing out [on] sales," says Richard Davies, merchandising manager at AbeBooks. "In today's global bookselling market, booksellers should consider selling through as many channels as possible—their own shop, their own website, online marketplaces, book fairs, festivals, etc. There are booksellers who only sell online and there are booksellers who use online sales to complement a robust offline offering. It depends on the books—niche-category books are ideal for the Internet."
Booksellers and publishers of all stripes, from Powell's in Oregon to The Book Depository in the United Kingdom, offer product for sale through AbeBooks, which, unlike parent company Amazon, offers global book sales from a single online database. The ability of a small U.S. bookseller to market books to bibliophiles in Europe or Asia can be a big boon. "That's one of the advantages of working with us," Davies notes.
The New Market of "Hybrid" Readers
Bob Ticehurst is a bookstore owner who appreciates his Kindle. The founder and president of the Used Book Superstore, which has five locations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, owns and enjoys the e-reading device. "I hate to admit it … but there are certain things I'm going to read on that and certain things I am not," he says. "On a flight this week, I was reading a book on my Kindle, and I got tired of that and switched to a hardcover book that I was also reading. … When I go to the gym, I Iike using a Kindle. I think a lot of people are like that—they don't just choose one or the other."
Research backs up the idea that consumers do not want to buy books in just one format. A study conducted by Verso in partnership with the American Booksellers Association, the "2010 Survey of Book-Buying Behavior," identifies a new "hybrid market" of avid readers who split their purchase behaviors between electronic and print books.