Gone are the days of checking out books on stands and picking them up at retail stores. It is estimated that more than 60% of urban book buyers purchase print copies of books at online stores. This, of course, does not include eBooks, the sales of which have reportedly increased more than 300% in the last four years, all of which are purchased online. Publishing soothsayers forecast that the eBook market, largely propelled by mobile computing devices, will occupy 80% of the total market. Considering long driving expeditions in cities and evolution of robust devices, many people are buying audio books as well. Five years back, audio books of Indian novel was a rarity, but today best sellers are available in audio format and easily accessible to interested buyers on online/offline stores.
The reasons that underlie the changing phenomenon are very obvious. Evolution of e-commerce has made online shopping easy and convenient, for some busy people the only mode of shopping. Facilitation of payment through various modes, including Cash on Delivery (COD), has taken online products to consumers of all age groups, very old or very young. Book sellers had to just capitalize on the changing market scenario and it has paid off very well. Infact, many publishers, who lack the bandwidth, promote all their works online as a starting point. It is a happy story for both sides, book sellers and buyers, because it reduces transaction costs, helps access to information, reviews, ratings and pricing, very easily.
With book sellers and buyers going online, the techniques for online product sales have been applied to books as well. A quick online search will reveal that online book stores like Flipkart, India Plaza, CrossWord, Infibeam and so on, always give deals on books, especially the popular ones. Great discounts are offered by these stores at various stages of a book’s cycle, pre-order, release, best seller, follow up, eBooks and audio books. With multiple online book stores, many websites for price comparison have also emerged to enable a consumer to buy a book at the cheapest price. Discount Coupons for books, free giveaways, contests and other models have also been adopted to promote book sales. Though reliable statistics on their impact are sparse, social networking and online deals, is estimated to be a major contributor in taking a book to the buyer. Therefore, it is not surprising that authors and publishers go facebooking, tweeting and couponing.