How and Why the Book Trade Will Survive – 5 Theses

Written by Jun.-Prof. Dr. Erik Maier

Book retailers are increasingly under pressure from seemingly omnipotent players like Amazon. But do the weak suffer what they must and the strong do what they can? No, because traditional book retailing is stronger than one would expect. After years of loss of market share to online, offline book retail has been stabilizing over the last years.


Jun,.-Prof. Dr. Erik Maier, Junior Professorship in Retail and Multi-Channel Management

No Amazon stores have been sighted in Germany (yet). But more importantly, traditional book retail has a number of advantages (direct availability, staff support and recommendations, people’s wish to protect a cultural institution) that render it stronger than intuitively expected. But weaknesses remain: assortments are necessarily more limited than in online retail and going to the store is less comfortable than ordering from home. Book retailers need to balance these weaknesses – as in other retail sectors – with an extension and integration of their sales channels: online transparency of the offline assortment, click-and-collect and home-delivery from the store are key steps. Large book retailers already do that, but the small ones need to cooperate (e.g., over marketplaces) to keep up. Further, book retailers need to understand their customers better and more systematically, that is, not only through the knowledge of an individual sales person, but through the ongoing collection and investigation of customer data. In short: a lot to do, but a positive outlook for those that are ready to move.

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