Amazon threatens October Books

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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.

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Discussion2 Comments

  1. avatar

    I agree with supporting local shops, but why the innaccuracy? Anything I buy from Amazon (rather than an Amazon marketplace seller) comes with free supersaver delivery, and is often much MUCH cheaper than any price I have found in a bookshop.

    I looked at October Books website. The first of this months independently chosen titles are as follows. I looked up the amazon price too:

    The Art Of Fielding by Chad Harbach
    Amazon price: £7.64 with free supersaver delivery
    October Books price? £13.59

    French Children Don’t Throw Food by Pamela Druckerman
    Amazon price: £9 with free supersaver delivery
    October Books price? £12

    Little Bones by Janette Jenkins
    Amazon price: £8.83 with free supersaver delivery
    October Books price? £10.39

    Love Monster by Rachel Bright
    Amazon price: £4.58 with free supersaver delivery
    October Books price? £5.59

    The Captain’s Daughter by Leah Fleming
    Amazon price: £6.79 with free supersaver delivery
    October Books price? £10.39

    By my quick calculations based on prices on both websites at this moment, thats a saving of over £15 on 5 books, and the books come to you!
    Can students really afford to pass up those levels of saving? Seriously? That means on those first few books that October Books seem to be promoting on their website, you would pay over 40% more by shopping there rather than with Amazon. Good value? Only if you are happy to effectively give a 40% tip to help support local businesses.

    Do you think this article helps inform students and protects their interests?

  2. avatar

    If small shops are going to survive they need to provide something unique.

    Its difficult with commodity products for small independents to compete on price, so they have to add value to the products to justify the price uplift needed to cover their overheads.

    The advantages October Books has are its specialist areas, expert knowledge, ethical approach, and a nice browsing experience, but you have to realise that you pay a lot more for these benefits.

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