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Russian Booksellers Say Online Retail Competition Is Gaining Fast

29 January 2019

From Publishing Perspectives:

Russian booksellers say they share with their Western counterparts a rising concern that competition with online stores is deepening quickly, even as government plans call for new retail space support for independent bookstores.

In recent years, the Internet has become a major channel for the market’s book sales, as shopping online has expanded and taken business from physical retail, according to media reports.

Last year the Russian book market grew by 7 to 8 percent in value terms over 2017, to 79 billion rubles (US$1.19 billion)—according to Eksmo-AST’s CEO, Oleg Novikov, in a report from Ekaterina Bryzgalova at Vedomosti—though experts predict a slower rate of growth for this year.

Publishers and booksellers confirm to Publishing Perspectives that the slowing growth seems to be caused, in part, by a consumer shift towards online sale channels.

Novikov says, “When we assess the annual turnover of the common bookstores we already have operating, we find that that turnover is stagnating.”

. . . .

Novikov describes what is called in Western markets “showrooming,” or people browsing physical stores, choosing books, then ordering them online. And that, he says, is clearly driven by Internet outlets’ lower prices.

A spokesman for the ministry of science and culture tells Publishing Perspectives that it sees price differences between traditional book retail and online channels to be as high as 25 to 30 percent, so the savings for consumers can be significant.

. . . .

The growth online is confirmed by more statistics from the ministry, which says that in 2018, online sales of books in Russia grew by more than 25 percent over 2017. This increased the online percentage of the overall book market’s sales to roughly 20 percent—a figure well behind that found in some Western markets but a serious section of the market for a nation still adjusting to the impact of digital consumerism.

In an Eksmo-AST study of the situation, Nobikov told Vedomosti, in September, he could see a rise of 18 percent in online sales for books in 2018. “The development of online stores is faster than traditional bookstores,” he told Bryzgalova, adding that he could see the overall online percentage of book sales reaching 35 percent within five years.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

Bookstores, Non-US