Global Trade Talk: US Online Price War; EC to Fast Track Digitization Talks; German Sales Up

In Global Trade Talk by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka and Siobhan O’Leary

Mass market retailer Target has joined a worrisome US book price war that started last Thursday and has already reduced the price of some hot new books to a mere $8.99 per copy. As the Associated Press explains, the price cuts began when “Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said its Web site, walmart.com, would charge just $10, with free shipping, for such upcoming hardcover releases as Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue and John Grisham‘s Ford County, 60 percent or more off the regular cost.” Another dollar was cut off the price of the weekend following Amazon.com’s decision to go head to head with Wal-Mart.

The deeply discounted books are only available online…for the moment. The AP quoted Michael Norris, a senior analyst with Simba Information, as assaying “I don’t see an end in sight. There is going to be a longer-term cost to cheap books. This book war drives out chain stores and independent bookstores,” adding “bookstores are invested in the future of books, but the others are not.”

According to the UK’s Bookseller, the European Commission in Brussels is fast tracking its talks with European publishers in advance of a US judicial decision about the Google Settlement next month, in an effort to address head-on “important cultural and legal challenges of mass-scale digitization and dissemination of books.” A statement from EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy and Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding, said, “Europe should seize this opportunity to take the lead, and to ensure that books digitization takes place on the basis of European copyright law, and in full respect of Europe’s cultural diversity.” The EC is preparing a report to be released next year titled “Copyright in the Knowledge Economy” which will offer “pro-competitive European solutions on books digitization.”

Germany’s BuchMarkt writes that a report from Branchenmonitor Buch indicates September sales via book retailers, department stores and online retailers in Germany were up by 5.1% over this point last year (and 2.8% overall this year). Audiobooks saw large gains, with a 9.5% increase in sales; paperback sales increased by 5.3% and hardcovers by 4.7%. After a substantial gain in August, the category of children’s and young adult books experienced double-digit growth in September (+13.5%).

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.