Internet Sales Leveling Out

According to The Culture and Commerce of Publishing in the 21st Century authored in part by Al Greco, retail trends have seen the internet sales to have plateaued. From his discussions with Shelf Awareness, he shared the following:

  • Internet sales “seem to have plateaued at about 13%-15% of the total market, which varies from sector to sector and differs for trade versus scholarly books.” Online sales have “certainly changed the business but they haven’t grown the way some people thought they might.”
  • The number of independent bookstores has stabilized. “In 2005, the number of stores going out of business matched the number of stores that opened.”
  • Barnes & Noble and Borders, representing $9 billion of the industry’s $16 billion in sales in bookstores, “remain the two key national players.” They have become “destination spots. People go there. Even if they don’t buy, they sit and have coffee and croissants and read a paper.”
  • There’s been a sharp increase in sales to the channels “most people don’t think about,” including warehouse clubs, mass merchandisers, supermarkets, convenience stores. Wal-Mart alone is selling at least $1 million a week in books, while Target is “booming” and Hudson has more than 500 stores that “move a lot of books.”
  • There have been some “innovations and attempts to revitalize the old mall store universe.”

Greco isn’t saying anything that savvy romance readers have known for a long time. I was surprised by the amount of money that BN and BGI account for. According to the RWA, Borders, Waldens and Barnes & Noble account for only about 1/3 of overall sales.

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By Jane Litte

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