Internet has changed the way of doing business….Online Business… business devoid of huge investments, overheads, long hours, and so on. More and more people are using web services and this digital revolution is affecting the Brick & Mortar businesses in every industry. The book industry cannot remain unaffected. Independent booksellers to big chains like Barnes & Noble – no one is immune to these changes. Numerous online bookstores are being opened across the globe. The aggressive and phenomenal predictions for eBook growth have already threatened the existence of brick-and-mortar bookstores. But is this decline of brick-and-mortar bookstores inevitable?
All the stores of the Big retail bookselling chain “Borders” have been closed in American Bookstores Association (ABA) now has 1,900 member stores. A decade ago they had 2,400 member stores. Why these numbers are dwindling?
Sales have been declining in the physical book stores. People now order books online or download eBooks to their devices. People may visit bookstores but the main purpose is to research about their next reading. But why? The answer is simple – web offers readers a number of advantages.
The most popular Book selling website is Amazon.com. Its an easy website to navigate and buy stuff. Such kind of online bookstores are operational 24 x 7 and sell a gamut of titles in every possible genre These can be assessed from anywhere at anytime and one doesn’t need to drive and park.. Online shopping provides customer with the advantage of comparing the prices and hence the online stores entice consumers with discounts and perks such as free shipping. Also since the bookseller saves on the rent and warehousing cost, books are priced cheaper in online markets. Even if they are priced at par, still online purchase is preferred as there is no cost of traveling to store and the convenience attached to it.
With the advent of eBooks and the ease and speed with which these are delivered, the online bookstores are further gaining popularity- these are the only platform where the eBooks can be sold. A research note from IHS iSuppli predicts e-book sales will rise by 40% from 2010 to 2014 during that same period. By 2014, the research note predicts, e-books will occupy some 13 percent of U.S. book publishing revenue, more than twice its current level. And since eBooks can be sold only by online bookstores, this gives one more reason for such stores to gain popularity. Also their recent research report predict a robust growth in eBook reader market this year. Also, establishing and running a physical bookstores involves a lot of overheads like building rent, utilities, employee salaries, property insurance, phones, Internet access charges, website development and maintenance costs, taxes, and a host of other less significant costs. And over and above all these, there is a cost of stocking their shelves to have something to sell! With high investment of time and money, the returns offered are only moderate. These things definitely favor online selling of books. It has minimal cost, minimal risk, minimal workload and maximized profit. Hence from seller’s point of view too, online bookstores seem to be a better option.
New business models are being evolved in this internet era. Businesses have to redefine themselves accordingly and those who fail to understand this will find it difficult to survive.The Brick and mortar booksellers have to fight back with click and mortar strategy. They need to establish a complementary online outlet in order to survive. The loss of bricks & mortar stores is an unfortunate, natural consequence of this digital era. eBooks , with reader friendly features like low cost and instant gratification, are popular and will become more and more popular. People will increasingly buy more and more physical books from online stores offering discounts. Brick and Mortar stores will exist in some modified form – like catering to a niche segment – people who prefer going to a bookstore, socializing and spending hours there.