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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2590 - July 20, 2011 - ISSN 1539-5065    3 of 4

New Amazon Kindle Program Could Impact Online Booksellers

By Ina Steiner
July 20, 2011

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Amazon.com announced a new Kindle textbook rental program for students, giving consumers yet another reason not to walk into a brick-and-mortar store to buy books, and having the potential to impact online sellers. The announcement came the same day Borders bookstores said it would move forward in liquidating its stores assets as a result of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The bookstore chain blamed the rapidly changing book industry, eReader revolution, and turbulent economy.

In October, we asked readers if ebook readers were having an effect on their sales - only 22 percent of book sellers reported that ebook readers had decreased their own sales, but 63% of respondents believed ebook readers have decreased the sale of print books in general. The reason for the discrepancy is likely due to the fact that 70% of respondents said ebook readers were more likely to affect the sale of new books versus used books.

What's especially interesting about Amazon's rental program is how it is making it easy for students to save all notes and highlighted content, even after a rental expires. "If you choose to rent again or buy at a later time, your notes will be there just as you left them, perfectly Whispersynced."

Online booksellers also face competition from textbook rental programs such as Chegg and Bookrenter. But they can participate in a program from Alibris that allows booksellers to participate in book rentals - see this May 2011 article.

The Wall Street Journal published a feature article today about Barnes & Noble and its struggle to survive as customers at BarnesandNoble.com snap up three digital books for every one physical book. "As reading moves ever faster from hardcovers and paperbacks to electronic gadgets, the retailer is attempting to reinvent itself as a seller of book downloads, reading devices and apps."

The article quotes a consultant from Market Partners International who said all big-box retailers are facing the same issues. "It's a balancing act, because bookstores are needed to generate excitement even though the final transaction may be digital."

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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