With sales of 11.31 million copies of books in 2010, Books.com.tw is now Taiwan’s biggest book retailer. In fact, its 2009 sales of 10 million copies already exceeded that of Eslite, Taiwan’s largest chain bookstore, during the same period.
Owned by Uni-President Corporation, which also operates about 4,750 7-Eleven convenience stores throughout the island, Books.com piggybacks on that distribution channel. About 70% of its transactions involve pickup from 7-Eleven stores, and the rest, home delivery. (Uni-President also owns the Starbucks Coffee franchise in Taiwan, and Rakuten, Japan’s largest online shopping mall operator.)
Fiction, says marketing manager Joey Tsao, is “the most popular segment at Books.com, followed by lifestyle titles. The biggest growth last year, at around 51%, came from the child care/parenting genre.” Its latest statistics show that 61% of Books.com customers are female, and 71% come from the 20–39-year-old age group.
Books.com has been offering imported titles since July 2006. “Between 2007 and 2010, sales of English titles grew 70%, and we are trying to raise demand higher,” says Tsao. “We work with American wholesalers such as Baker & Taylor and Ingram as well as multinational publishers like Random House, HarperCollins, Penguin, Hachette, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan. Besides English books, we also sell English, Japanese and Korean magazines,” he adds. Currently, Books.com does not sell e-books, but a team has been formed to look into this segment.
Hailed as Taiwan’s answer to Amazon, Books.com also sells clothing and accessories, electronics, arts and crafts, appliance, gourmet food and drinks, to name but a few. It recently launched two creative programs to boost sales and increase its online presence. One of the programs offers revenue sharing with bloggers that links their blogs to Books.com, or to those that recommend products sold by Books.com through their blogs. Another program, m.books.com.tw, capitalizes on the popularity of mobile-based Web surfing to enable customers to browse, search, compare prices and purchase any product via mobile phones. Given its strong customer focus, it is no wonder that Taiwan-based Business Next magazine recently ranked Books.com #1 among the island’s 50 major online shopping sites.
Top Ten Translated Bestsellers in 2010
1 The Secret. Rhonda Byrne.
2 Your Own Worst Enemy. Kenneth W. Christian.
3 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Stieg Larsson.
4 Eat, Pray, Love Elizabeth Gilbert.
5 The Lost Symbol. Dan Brown.
6 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Stieg Larsson.
7 Breaking Dawn. Stephenie Meyer.
8 The Girl Who Played with Fire. Stieg Larsson.
9 Eclipse. Stephenie Meyer.
10 New Moon. Stephenie Meyer.