Hudson Booksellers, the largest airport bookseller in the U.S., is the latest bricks-and-mortar bookstore to launch an online store, HudsonBooksellers.com. While it might seem counter-intuitive for a bookseller that seems geared to impulse purchasers to move online, Hudson v-p of book buying and promotions Sara Hinckley says, “having a site will allow us to offer more value to our customers, whether they are traveling or not. We can offer [Kobo] e-books (of huge importance to the traveling public), flash sales, pre-orders, bulk orders, and other promotions that are not possible without a Web site.” Starting next month it will also offer an In Store Deal of the Week with a coupon code available only on the Web site.
Like other bricks-and-mortar retailers, Hudson hasn’t been immune from the shift from print to e-books and with it showrooming, even though the 2012 DigEcor, Inc. survey found that the number one in-flight activity on all flights up to eight hours is reading. Reading material is also the second most popular category at Hudson, after water and food. Despite some loss of book sales in airports, Hinckley says that the media spin on the death of print and bookstores has done more damage. “There is a lot of industry fear that building bookstores won’t be profitable in the near future,” she says.
To create the Web site, Hudson relied on sales history to predict which categories and titles customers might be most interested in. “We don’t just sell books, we love books, all books,” says Hinckley, who plans to carry a selection of bestsellers, business titles, local authors, international prize-winners, cult classics, and small press titles online. “We have been the traveler’s local bookstore for over 20 years, a cultural gateway between their home cities and the world.”
That local sensibility, despite the fact that Hudson is a subsidiary of international travel retailer Dufry AG—the combined Hudson/Dufry oversees more than 1,200 stores in 43 countries and 155 airports and transportation terminals—has led it to partner with independent booksellers like Vroman's at LAX and Barbara’s Bookstores at O’Hare. Hudson is also a member of the American Booksellers Association, and HudsonBooksellers.com was developed through the ABA’s IndieCommerce platform.