The effect on the High Street bookshop

Tim Walker, the manager of Walker’s Bookshop in Stamford, made the point that traditional bookshop customers rarely go to the shop to ask for digital products and if they do, the margin on an ebook sold through a bookseller is tiny.  The margin on selling an e-reader device, such as Kobo, provides the bookseller with the same amount of revenue as ‘about five birthday card sales’.  The bookseller’s problem, Tim suggested, is that even more than the publisher, the bookshop is exposed to squeeze from the new behemoths that have recently entered the industry. Amazon, Google and Apple have a combined market share of 94% of all ebooks sold; everyone else is currently fishing in a very small pond!

He said that High Street booksellers today were up against what he called the ‘4 Ps’:

  • Perception: how do we get people to buy ebooks from us?
  • Platforms: how do we provide a seamless way to deliver books to the customer?
  • Protectionism: how do we increase competition in the marketplace?
  • Profit: how can we make selling ebooks profitable?