For those who missed this one it was a partnership between Unbridled Books and the ABA (American Booksellers Association) in which independent bookstores across the country that where set up for e-book commerce could offer a range of books from the publisher for 25 cents each.
During the three day event 145 independent bookstores sold a total of 15,807? e-books (this number does not include the e-books sold at Powells or other large shops that do not use the ABA e-commerce platform).
Though acknowledging that the model is indeed unsustainable ABA?s COO, Len Vlahos, proclaimed the promotion as an ?unparalleled success,? He said ?This experiment did demonstrate that consumers are interested in buying e-books from independent bookstores.?Really?
Back in 1999, my brother, wife and I started an online clothing company called bargainclothing.com. It was becoming apparent that buying stuff over the internet was shaping up to be a budget conscious activity. Though the company didn't survive the burst of the dot-com bubble, it did have quite a nice run and was consistently ranked among the top 20 online destinations for apparel. Why?, the clothes were inexpensive. Buying things online was all about price point. We could offer the same clothing you would find in your local department store but for less money. Think Amazon, who at that time was billed as Earth's Biggest Bookstore.
So, it comes as no surprise that thousands of readers would flock to the websites of independent booksellers to partake in 25 cent e-books. Yes, there was an uptick in sales of other "regularly" priced e-books and some of those new customers will return in the future but I am not so sure how healthy a promotion this will turn out to be for the trade long term. It says a lot more about the nature of saving money online then buying independent. Essentially, these bookstores became penny-sellers for 3 days and one needs to look no further than how damaging the penny-selling? model has been to the non-new book business.
My head is still spinning trying to figure out how something that is completely unsustainable can by an unparallelled success.
Unbridled E-book Sale a Great Success - Publisher's Weekly