First published on http://cjonline.com/
Topeka bookstore owners are relying on customer service and lower prices to hold onto their market share in the face of increasing online competition.
Online book sales overtook sales at brick-and-mortar stores in the United States for the first time in 2012, according to data from Bowker Market Research, which tracks the book industry.
About 43.8% of books sold through November 2012 were bought online. That includes both ebooks and hard copy books sold through online outlets such as Amazon. About 31.6% of books were sold in stores, including chain bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, supermarkets and general merchandise stores such as WalMart.
Just a year before, about 35.1% of books were sold online and 41.7% were sold in stores. Almost all of the decline in store sales came from chain bookstores, which declined from 28.7% of the market in 2011 to 18.7% in 2012. Independent bookstores and mass merchandisers held steady with 3.7% and 7.7% of the market, respectively, and supermarkets dipped slightly from 1.6 to 1.5% of the market.
Jo Henry, director of Bowker Market Research, attributed most of the decline in store sales to the closing of Borders, which accounted for about 9% of the book market in the U.S., and the failure of other chains to pick up its customers.