Wednesday, 16 November 2011

An Unlikely Saviour

It would seem to many that Amazon are determined to take over the publishing industry what with their take-over of The Book Depository, selling the latest Kindle at a loss, control of pre-release reviews via the Vine program and the start of their very own publishing wing. There's a lot of doom and gloom going around but on my dark, damp walk home from work I started thinking. In the UK we have an ally... The Might of the Supermarket!

There are plenty of people that think supermarkets are evil too but lets face it, most of us use them. If you're not familiar with UK supermarkets, they sell practically everything including books. The selection in my local store is excellent, a paperback chart, with prices lower than Amazon and a multi-buy option, that contains a wide range of genres. Plus there's crime, romance, non-fiction, new releases and young adult sections all year round with the occasional addition of a random selection. I have found some great books in there.

In general, you're not going to go to the supermarket to buy books, you'll be there to buy food and other essential items. That's the genius of it. I can see the books aisle from the entrance and it's so easy to go have a little peek. Thousands of unplanned book purchases are made this way a year. And guess what, they all have to be real, physical, paper books!

Yes, I get to my point. Amazon might be selling Kindles in the supermarkets but they can't sell the ebooks there. Tesco, in particular, has a huge buying power and if they want paper books, by George they will have paper books! I can't really imagine them supporting Amazon's publishing venture either and indie stores definitely won't, which leaves Amazon selling their paper books on Amazon only. I don't think that's a healthy marketing strategy, we need things in plain sight to want them and from the sounds of it, the only buzz is that of people opposing the whole thing.

“What about supporting your local independent book shop?” I hear you cry. I don't have one. There are two Waterstones branches a bus ride away, which will happily sell me a book for full RRP as well as the cost and time of getting to the store. The few times I've ventured in there recently, I've come out empty-handed due to lack of choice. I was more of a Borders girl but, like many, just didn't buy enough to keep it going.

I'm not opposed to Amazon as long as we have options. I like the fact that I can get things low cost and delivered free of charge. The Kindle is an amazing piece if technology and it's great to have the option of downloading a book immediately if I so need it. The big fear is that Amazon will price everyone out of the market, take control and then hike prices. I can't see it happening when I can so easily buy a book with my weekly shopping.


  1. I love my local Waterstones, could spend all day in there if I had to! I'm not sure about their new no 3 for 2 thing though, I only saw a couple of books on offer that I was interested in last time, and both were hardback so it would be cheaper to just wait for the paperback either way. We do have a local independent book shop on the high street, but their selection is very small, I occasionally pop in but rarely buy anything.

  2. I have bought many a book from Tescos as an impulse buy! I think it's healthy for there to be competition, I wouldn't want Amazon to completely take over.

  3. My local is a supermarket, I would have to walk about 15mins to get to a local shop and I just wont do it (across big busy roads and lets not even go there with the weather).

    I love having the choice of there or Waterstones and Amazon online, I wouldn't want it all merged.


  4. Maybe it's different in bigger towns, but even the big supermarkets in west Cornwall have a very limited selection of books.

    I'm not buying at the moment due to the lack of a job, but when I am I plan to use The Hive, which is a network of local bookshops that have joined forces via the internet:

  5. This wasn't really about the survival of independent bookshops, more regarding the fears that people have that Amazon will take over the publishing and book-selling industries which has been mentioned across several sites now.

    Whilst The Hive sounds like a good idea, the general person isn't going to spend twice as much on a book that they're buying online. I might pay full price in a shop where I had a great experience but not to keep a shop going the other side of the country. I don't really have enough spare cash to justify that. In the current economic climate people are spending less and that means supporting a bespoke service is quite far down the list of expenditures.


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