Online Book Sales Surpass Bookstores

By Martine, Cindy | Information Today, September 2011 | Go to article overview

Online Book Sales Surpass Bookstores


Martine, Cindy, Information Today


For the first time, online book sales outpaced bookstore purchases in the U.S., reflecting a significant shift in the U.S. book industry. The finding, which is part of R.R. Bowker, LLC's "2010-11 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics & Buying Behaviors Annual Review," is a sign that consumers have found that buying books online is somewhat more convenient than buying titles at the nearest Barnes & Noble.

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The report noted that 27% of the books sold in 2010 were purchased online, while 25% of books were purchased at large bookstore chains. There was also a slight difference between the dollars spent on purchases online and in bookstores: 30% of the total was spent via ecommerce, barely edging out the total spent in chain bookstores (29%).

Although 51% of consumers surveyed for the report said the economy had no effect on their book purchases, the first three quarters of 2010 revealed consistent declines in book sales, with 4Q 2010 showing a rebound. Interestingly, most book consumers live in households with the lowest incomes: 30% of books were purchased by consumers living in households earning incomes of less than $35,000, whereas consumers in households earning more than $150,000 made up the smallest percentage (5%). …

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