Why books are our business - an opportunity for technology retailers

Fifty shades of new income for the computing industry
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Books as a printed, physical media have a long history, but their future lies with the technology market.

While you can still just about visit a real world bookstore to pick a book up, more and more book content is being purchased online.

Books are being read from a variety of electronic devices such as e-readers, smartphones and tablets. Readers visiting their local high street are now as likely to be looking for a gadget or accessory for reading e-books than an actual physical book. Yes, books are our business now.

JOURNEYS TO THE TECH SIDE

But let’s take a quick detour to see how other forms of media got there. Games have always been our business. Admittedly more and more are being streamed, so PC retailers are losing the ability to sell them as often as in the past, but there’s a big opportunity to upgrade computers and sell accessories.

Music is our business too – the download charts may not affect us, but just look at the market for audio streaming and high-end headsets. TV and film is already there, with smart TVs and other streaming devices. It’s only natural that books – a decade or so ago near-impossible to imagine being in this domain – have become the next entertainment opportunity for computer retailers.

50 SHADES OF NEW RETAIL CUSTOM?

Just take a look at recent publishing success Fifty Shades of Grey to see where the book sales are going. This is now the fastest selling book ever and the majority of sales have been on Amazon Kindle. It is the first book to sell over one million copies on Kindle. Trade magazine The Bookseller commented: “The author’s digital sales exceed the physical, though, with Kindle sales of Fifty Shades outselling the paperback version by more than two to one on Amazon.”

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The London Book Fair, a huge trade event in the book publishing world, with over 23,000 attendees and 1,700 exhibitors, now has a Digital Zone and a Digital Minds Conference precisely because technology is becoming such a large part of that sector.

It’s opening up a new market for technology retailers. Sure, plenty of readers have computers, tablets and more already, but many book lovers don’t, and could ultimately become brand new custom.

E-READERS NEED ACCESSORIES TOO

There are a multitude of e-readers (or tablets that will do the job just fine thank you very much) available, but if you don’t fancy stocking any of those then you can still benefit by selling accessories from covers to waterproof cases to clip-on lights and so on.

Steve Walsh, from distributor Meroncourt, said:“The popularity of the tablet and e-reader market makes it a definite area for retailers to consider looking at for additional sales. There is some good profit to be made selling accessories for them.”

Savvy booksellers will be learning all they can about the e-book market if they want to keep their heads above water – but you should consider it too. Whether book-specific devices will stick around it’s difficult to tell – the market is going all-out crazy for tablets at the moment – but readers are here to stay. Let’s turn them into our customers.

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