Wednesday, 21 December 2011

E books can get physical

A book selling online recently
I see from a YouGov survey, via a report in the Bookseller than books - real, solid paper books - are 'among the most popular online buys.'

I must admit, I don't find the results of the survey particularly surprising. For example we are told that customers are 'likely to use a different retailer for electronic and bricks and mortar shopping' - well, yes. It's not exactly a surprise, for example, that a lot of people buy online from Amazon and don't on the high street for obvious reasons. (Amazon really ought to buy out Argos - it would be a great fit.) Similarly, my daughters buy quite a lot of clothes online from retailers like Urban Outfitters and Abercrombie & Fitch that don't have stores in our town, so it's not surprisingly that they rarely visit these shops in the brick and mortar form.

As an aside, just as the next generation has a different view of electronic communications to us oldies, they also buy remotely in a different way. If I buy stuff online, it's stuff I want. I may occasionally send it back if there's something wrong with it, but otherwise I keep it. They will buy a bunch of clothes with the intent of sending up to 50% of it back. They regard online shopping more as a visit to a changing room than a visit to the till. (In this regard, BOO HISS to Urban Outfitters, which is about the only online shop that doesn't pay the postage on returns. So guess which mug does.)

But my main theme was the observation that books are amongst the most popular online buys. This makes a lot of sense. I know it's lovely to browse through a bookshop and thumb through books (though it is less pleasant then buying some of those thumbed-through books - some of the stock on the shelves is in terrible condition). But a lot of book purchases are either a gift or another book from an author you already know and trust. It's an ideal type of product to buy online. (And it's the right shape to post.) And long may people continue to buy this way - as well as through traditional bookshops.

I love a good bookshop, but I'm not one of those book police types who think if you don't buy from their favourite little indie store you are a philistine. I just want people to buy books!
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