The Internet is Winning

The reality is that it is hard to get brick-and-mortar Christian bookstores to stock books by small publishers and independent authors. For the past decade, Christian retail stores have been shutting their doors. Many of the remaining stores have reduced the floor space that they devote to books, opting instead to carry more gifts and clothing merchandise.

One of the reasons for the trend toward fewer physical bookstores and less floor space devoted to books in these stores is the Internet. While the Internet has been expanding, physical bookstores have been shrinking.

This past year (2012), for the first time, online retail stores sold more books than brick-and-mortar retail stores in the United States. According to new data from Bowker Market Research, in 2012, 43.8% of books bought by consumers were sold online, while only 31.6% of books were purchased in large retail chains, independent bookstores, other mass merchandisers, and supermarkets.

bowker chartThis is nearly a direct reversal of the previous year (2011) when 35.1% of books were bought online, while 41.7% were sold in stores.

This is big news. It is especially good news for small and independent publishers.
If this trend continues and the percentage of books purchased online continues to grow eight to ten percent each year, as small publishers and independent authors, we will no longer have to expend herculean efforts to get our books into retail stores. Instead, we will be able to concentrate our energies on making sure our books are available in the right places online and then pour our remaining energies into marketing our books.

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