The different ways in which books are being sold were highlighted in two separate reports issued in recent weeks. In a study sponsored by Bowker, 2,144 consumers were interviewed by the Kanbay Research Institute to determine what prompts them to shop for books at independent bookstores, chain stores or on the Web. The report, Book Selling Demand Today, found that consumers expect knowledgeable staff and fair pricing (if not necessarily discounts) in all outlets. They use online stores primarily for convenience, safety and simplicity, the report determined, while the attributes consumers value the most at the chains are location and loyalty programs. At independents, consumers expect to find a distinct culture that provides a unique selection and a quality shopping experience.
A second report was conducted by the online marketplace AbeBooks.com and provided the first look at the characteristics of the people who use its services. Approximately 2,000 booksellers responded to the Abe survey, which found that 64% of booksellers offer mostly out-of-print books. The average number of books listed by sellers was 6,500, and 2% of the respondents said they listed more than 100,000 books online with Abe. The company estimated that it facilitated sales worth $170 million last year, and has online inventory of 100 million books. Inventory should steadily grow, the survey found, since most booksellers said they are still in the process of cataloguing their books on Abe, and the company estimated that its inventory could hit 120 million books by the end of 2008. And nearly 80% of sellers said they plan to upload more books to other online sites, while 21% said they plan to launch their own e-commerce site.