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Book Retailing on the Internet
UK Market Assessment 2010

  • Publication Date:December 2010
  • Publisher:Key Note
  • Product Type: Report
  • Pages:118

Book Retailing on the Internet UK Market Assessment 2010

Executive Summary

The Internet as a channel for book retailing has matured. There are just a handful of purely online book retailers remaining from the late 1990s and early 2000s which are now firmly established within the online book sector, and these have been joined online offerings from those bricks and mortar bookshops to which they once seemed to pose a threat. Many publishers also sell their titles directly through their own branded online bookstores.

Although buying from online bookstores offers a wide variety of choice and generally lower prices - a key factor for customers - online sales account for less than 20% of total book sales in the UK, whilst chain bookshops retain 40% market share. However, with higher overheads, this sector is less profitable; Waterstone's, the UK's only major book chain since the closure of Borders and Books Etc in 2009, saw profits fall during its 2009/2010 financial year. They were affected in part by a general decline in book sales, and also due to Borders' closing-down-sale during the Christmas period, which diverted book sales away from their own stores.

The previous edition of this report, published in 2007, discussed the rise in the use of the Internet for buying and selling secondhand books. The leader in this sector was Amazon, which through its Marketplace afforded consumers, dealers and publishers the opportunity to trade secondhand books; the company also owns AbeBooks, which has a vast network of secondhand booksellers, including those offering rare antiquities.

There have been changes in the wholesale and distribution sector; the economic recession has witnessed the collapse of the retail giant Woolworths, and although the company was not particularly active in the book sector, the group owned Total Home Entertainment (THE), a major book distributor. THE had previously acquired its rival distributor Bertrams, and the two companies were merged as Betrams/THE. Woolworth's administration left Bertrams in difficulties; however, a change to the structure of the WH Smith group saw Smith News PLC created, which then acquired Bertrams in 2009 as part of its growth strategy.

The biggest change in the online book retailing sector since the previous edition of this report has been the advent of the e-book phenomena.

Downloadable editions of out of copyright electronic books have been available for a number of years, most notably through the altruistic Gutenberg Project which continues to see volunteers transcribing texts for download to computers. Other organisations made important works, such as those of Darwin, available for free download, but new books were not readily available in e-book format early on - initial reading devices were prohibitively expensive.

With the launch of several new readers, especially from Sony and Amazon - with its Kindle in 2008 - this changed, and the publishing industry began to adapt. 2010 has seen a rapid growth in the e-book sector as new technologies, particularly Apple's latest iPhone - and in April the iPad, have made e-books more accessible. Amazon has responded by launching new editions of its Kindle reader at a lower cost.

The e-book sector is still very much in its infancy however. Despite Amazon's claims that e-book sales outnumbered those of hardback, e-books remain a fraction of the total online book market; there are still many issues to be resolved, especially involving digital rights.

This report has a particular focus on e-books; Key Note invited spokespeople from across the industry to take part in a virtual roundtable, in order to give their responses to a series of questions related to e-books and the issues that surround them. The full discussion can be read in Chapter 8 and Key Note is grateful to representatives from the Publishers Association, the Society of Authors, The Bookseller and e-book Magazine, Accent Press and the Book Depository for taking part.

This report also looks at the online book industry as a whole, with depth analysis of the consumer and academic sectors as well as the consumer market for e-books.

  • Foreword
  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Report Focus
  • Definition
    • Strategic Overview
  • Background
  • Market Dynamics and Segmentation
    • Market Share
    • Market Size
  • Distribution
    • Door-To-Door Delivery
    • Customer Deliveries
  • Competitive Structure
  • Advertising
  • The Consumer
  • Key Suppliers and Trade Associations
    • Publishers
    • Trade Associations
  • Market Forecasts
    • The Consumer Market
  • Background
    • Price Comparison Sites
  • Market Size
  • Consumer Trends
    • Online Spending in The Uk
  • Marketing Activity
    • Awards
    • Trade Fairs
    • Other Marketing Activities
  • Competitive Environment
    • The Consumer Market - Electronic Books
  • Background
  • Market Size
  • Consumer Trends
    • Which E-Book Platform?
    • The Kindle - A USer's Review
    • Consumer Awareness
  • Marketing Activity
  • Competitive Environment
    • Rights
    • E-Book Technologies
    • Digital Rights Management (Drm)
    • Online E-Book Sellers
    • Electronic Book Readers (E-Readers)
    • The Academic and Schools Market
  • Background
    • Academies and Free Schools
    • E-Books for Universities
  • Market Size
    • Schools
    • School and Public Libraries
    • University Libraries
  • Consumer Trends
  • Marketing Activity
    • Booktrust
    • Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (Clpe)
    • Federation of Children's Book Groups
    • The National Literacy Trust (Nlt)
    • The Reading Agency
    • The School Library Association (Sla)
  • Competitive Environment
    • Free Texts Online
    • Student Services Online
    • An International Perspective
  • Market Developments
  • Competitive Environment
  • Consumer Behaviour
    • Pest Analysis
  • Political
  • Economic
    • Social
  • Technological
    • Consumer Dynamics
    • Overview
    • Q1. What Would You Say Are The Main Advantages of E-Books for Publishers?
    • Q2. Aside from The Capacity Features of E-Book Readers, What Would You Say Are The Main Advantages of E-Books for Consumers?
    • Q3. Do You See Any Threat To Publishers from E-Books? If So - What?
    • Q4. Do You See Any Threat To Booksellers from E-Books? If So - What?
    • Q5. at Present E-Books Represent Only A Very Small Percentage of Total Book Sales in The Uk. Will Sales of Consumer Books in E-Book Format Ever Outstrip Those in Print Format, in Your Opinion?
    • Q6. Are There Any Genres Which, in Your Opinion, Are Better Suited for E-Books Than Others? Which Ones?
    • Q7. Is There A Problem With Distribution of E-Books To Territories for Which The Publisher Does Not Hold The Rights? If So, How Can This Best Be Overcome?
    • Q8. What Features Would You like To See for E-Book Readers That Are Not Currently Available?
    • Q9. Are Authors Generally Keen To Have Electronic Editions of Their Books Published, alongside Their Hard Copy Editions?
    • Q10. Can You Envisage A Future Where Authors Publish in E-Book Format Only?
    • Key Note Summary
    • Company/Supplier Profiles
  • Overdrive Inc
    • Corporate Strategy
    • Advertising
    • Distribution
    • Profitability
    • Future Company Developments
    • Bertrams (Smith News Plc)
    • Corporate Strategy
    • Advertising
    • Distribution
    • Profitability
    • Future Company Developments
  • Waterstone's Booksellers Ltd
    • Corporate Strategy
    • Advertising
    • Distribution
    • Profitability
    • Future Company Developments
  • The Book Depository Ltd
    • Corporate Strategy
    • Advertising
    • Distribution
    • Profitability
    • Future Company Developments
  • John Smith and Son Group Ltd
    • Corporate Strategy
    • Advertising
    • Distribution
    • Profitability
    • Future Company Developments
  • Accent Press Ltd
    • Corporate Strategy
    • Advertising
    • Distribution
    • Profitability
    • Future Company Developments
  • Pickabook Ltd
    • Corporate Strategy
    • Advertising
    • Distribution
    • Profitability
    • Future Company Developments
    • The Future
  • Overview
  • Market Forecasts
    • Further Sources
    • Associations
    • Publications
    • General Sources
    • Government Publications
    • Other Sources
    • Key Note Sources
    • Key Note Ltd
    • Understanding Tgi Data
    • Number, Profile, Penetration
    • Social Grade
    • Standard Region
    • Key Note Research
    • The Key Note Range of Reports
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