Thursday, May 02, 2013

Online retail

A recent US Census Bureau News indicates that online retail accounts for only 5.2% of all retail in the US. That is, 95% of all purchases are done in brick-and-mortar stores. A story in Wired says, "Forrester Research surveyed 4,500 U.S. adults online and found that in every major consumer category other than travel, shoppers said visiting a store served as the most important source of research before buying." The research suggest that no one in the selling business can afford to ignore the primal satisfaction of touching and holding something in your hand before you buy. "Human toolmaking and trade both started as hands-on endeavors; as much as we now love Amazon Prime, we as a species aren’t likely to give up in-person consumption anytime soon."

Is it the same for books? Two interesting recent stories come up. A story in Digital Book Wire story Ebook Best-Seller Price Average Plummets to Lowest Level Yet says, "... the US$9.99 price band, which was the most popular among consumers just six months ago, has fallen out of favor." Now, the average price is closer to US$5.50 per book. How low will it go? Elsewhere, The Association of American Publishers released 2012 sales figures, that showed a substantial increase of 7.4% in overall total sales in the book industry, of which 19% were digital. With plunging e-book pricing will that last percentage fall lower or rise? Digital Book wire seems to think it will stabilise between 20-25%.

So, contrary to popular belief, the book is not only alive and well, it is thriving, albeit in several different forms. This figure is all the more given the way mega book chains are closing all over the world.