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There is no one to create the Bulgarian Amazon

28 August 2014 / 19:08:10  GRReporter
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In the beginning was the Word ... This was literally true for online sales that, years ago, learnt “how to walk” since books were among the first goods widely sold on the Internet. They are the perfect product for sale by an online shop, as they are compact and light in weight, unbreakable, no mistakes can be made while ordering them as they have no sizes, colours and other characteristics to mislead the customer who will return them afterwards. Without going into details, the trade in books has many advantages when it comes to online sales. Therefore, books are a product that is widely offered throughout the world. They are among the first internationally available products that are shipped worldwide.

When talking about books, we cannot but mention Amazon, the biggest online shop the success of which is associated with the sale of books. Over the years the business has evolved and changed, and has gone beyond the ordinary order of paper editions from an online bookshop. E-readers have appeared that have revolutionized the supply of books, followed by tablets and smartphones, along with applications, readers, through which we buy e-books.

Recently, subscription services to use content related to films, TV shows and listening to music have become extremely popular. Amazon has decided to introduce this model in the segment of books, thus going a step further - instead of buying books, we can subscribe to them. The service allows reading all the books available in the catalogue. At first glance, it looks like applying a good practice to the trade in books. Of course, unlike films and music, the book is not something that is "consumed" so quickly. How many readers read more than one book a month? At second glance, the service seems ideal for passionate readers that narrows the target group of its users. Do not forget that a lot of people still prefer to feel a book - the flipping through the pages, the smell of paper, the pleasure of the weight of this form of knowledge and the pleasant moments of reading.

Amazon has an answer to this too. Do you want to use the product in the form that has not changed since the days of Gutenberg? No problem, the shop will deliver it with flying drones. Technology is everywhere!

Here is another thing related to the world trade in books. One reason to prefer online shops is the better price they offer. We used to buy e-books at a lower price. However, that is about to change. Over time, the difference in the prices of paper and e-books has become small. Because of illegal price fixing, Hachette, HarperCollins, Holtzbrinck, Penguin and Simon & Schuster publishers had already been indicted, being obliged to conclude agreements with the Ministry of Justice of the United States. They tried, along with Apple, to impose higher prices, and last year the court sentenced the manufacturer of iPad because of "a conspiracy directed by it."

Amazon has launched its own campaign to reduce book prices. The giant has started to use its market power against publishers in order to receive larger discounts to affect the end price. The desire of Amazon is to obtain discounts of 40% and 50% instead of the standard 30%. This pressure has affected not only American publishers, but also European ones. The trader is using all kinds of tricks to force publishers to agree - it offers their books with extended delivery although they are in stock, it does not offer pre-sales of anticipated sequels to best sellers and has withdrawn from sale some recent editions. Amazon tried to involve readers in this campaign too. The trade in books turns out to be a very complex game, susceptible to any techniques, and the stake is billions of dollars.

Where are we? Recently we have seen the trade in books to expand as well as online shops that are not connected with stationery business to offer this product. In Bulgaria, there is a main product and it is the paper edition. The main method of payment is upon delivery. Although the online payment methods have gained popularity in recent years, people continue to be reserved to them, and the general Bulgarian consumer remains quite conservative in his or her attitude towards online purchases. We can say that the reluctance to use online payment methods is increasing along with the age of the different user groups. There are exceptions, of course. At the same time, young people who freely use new technologies read less. For those who own an e-reader or tablet the only option to obtain an e-copy of the current bestseller is foreign shops, of course, in a foreign language, according to preferences.

Another option is "chitanka", a web site for scanned books that remains the main source of "power" for the fans of e-books who are hungry for literature. There are attempts to introduce the e-books in Bulgaria but they are quite timid, sporadic and unsatisfactory in general. The publishers do not have the technology, and perhaps, the financial resources to start such a business in which the most important thing appears to be the protection of the e-book, its protection from piracy, of course. There is no connection to reading devices neither a closing profitable cycle. There were attempts to provide devices connected to different "libraries" but the experiments faded with time. The three Bulgarian mobile operators offer e-books, but I think they do so to keep pace with their competitors rather than to develop a useful service.

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