Last year, Amazon took a staggering $63million (£40million), a startling fact considering the current recession which has forced many shops to close. The success of the company’s new Kindle Fire in November 2011 has provoked fears from local shops that this is one step too far in the competition.
A spokesman for October Books, the independent co-operatively run bookshop on Portswood Road, says that the shop will struggle to cope with the digitisation of books that has been provoked since the Kindle’s sales. ‘Amazon has always been a threat, but there was enough space in the market for us to exist alongside them. However, we cannot compete with Amazon’s digitisation and we are already beginning to see a decline in sales’.
We cannot compete with Amazon’s digitisation and we are already beginning to see a decline in sales.
The Kindle has sold over three million copies in December last year alone, and Dave Limp, the vice president of Kindle, says that the latest model is ‘the most successful product we’ve ever launched’. Certainly then, the future looks bleak for our local shops.
However, reports are emerging that Amazon’s Kindle is struggling, with the company making a loss of $10 per Kindle, a staggering $30million dollars loss so far just in December. The company has said that it is hoping to recover this money through other sales on their website, although many economic analysts remain sceptical of this method.
Despite the loss, the Kindle has proved incredibly popular, as it is cheaper to its nearest rival the iPad and achieved being the number 1 Christmas present last year.
One user explains the appeal of the Kindle compared to a normal book, a view which is echoed by many users: ‘I have a Kindle and I actually prefer it for a lot of my reading. It makes it significantly easier for me to read whilst standing. Also, I have bad eyes but prefer not to wear glasses. It is very functional for me’.
October Books is certainly stepping up their game to beat the competition, with diversification into selling items alongside books such as FairTrade products and organic food, as well as clothing and stationary. ‘People have been very supportive of us. Although Amazon is more convenient, I have no doubt that people want to help’.
October Books is certainly stepping up their game to beat the competition
October Books actually offers books at a similar price to Amazon, with the internet site only being a couple of pounds cheaper, but charging this difference for postage. Perhaps one of the main charms of the website is that you can buy second hand copies for a lot cheaper – some are offered for pennies and others at half of what October Books can offered to sell them for.
Claire Seagers, a third year biology student at Southampton, says: ‘I have bought books from October Books before, but it’s just easier to order books online as you don’t need to worry about opening times, and can do it whilst watching TV. Book shops rarely have the books I need anyway, so I might as well just order them online rather than ordering them from the shop’.
Amazon’s success is yet another threat on the horizon for locally run shops. Small shops have been struggling for years, and alongside the opening of the new Sainsbury’s big businesses may finally herald the end for the array of unique shops that Portswood has to offer.