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Industry News: Amazonian Buy Button Disappearing Act and Other Challenges, Cokesbury Closes Stores

November 10, 2012

Amazon Buy Buttons Mysteriously Disappear

A technical issue (probably) resulted in the buy buttons being removed–for a while–from the e-book pages for all of the Big Six publishers. Fifty of the top one hundred Amazon titles were unavailable during this glitch. Amazon didn’t offer any details about the glitch, and the buy buttons were restored within a few hours.

How this affects you: Unless you were read to buy and couldn’t, it doesn’t affect you. The fact that this is an issue indicates the level of tension between Amazon and the Big Six, err, Five.

Amazon Finds Challenges With Timothy Ferriss’s New Book

Timothy Ferriss, the author of The Four-Hour Workweek, made a big splash last year when he signed with Amazon. His main target market, younger men, seemed a natural fit for Amazon’s online, digital product set. Now, with his new book The Four-Hour Chef coming out this November, brick-and-mortar stores are reluctant and even antagonistic toward carrying it. Barnes and Noble has held firm that it will not sell Amazon’s books in its stores. Many independents are pushing back, as well. The stores are foregoing some revenue, but are also holding firm against an organization they feel is working toward their destruction.

How this affects you: It depends on how you view Amazon. If you view it as a champion for authors against New York publishing, you probably see it as a short-sighted and stupid decision by industry dinosaurs. If you view it as a predatory business looking to devour book sales whole, you see it as a principled stand. Either way, the landscape will continue to change, with bookstores either changing their business model or dying. If there’s no significant reduction in Ferriss’s sales, the entire situation does not bode well for stores. Large-scale success of his book would indicate that for big-name books, at least, bookstores aren’t key to success.

Cokesbury Closes All of Its Bookstores

The United Methodist Publishing House has announced that it is closing all 57 Cokesbury stores, opting instead to sell through its website (surprisingly called Cokesbury,com), its call center, and at conferences and church events. UMPH recently surveyed its customers and found that only 15% purchase from stores, accounting for only 30% of revenue. Cokesbury differs from other religious chains in that most of its sales come directly from churches. Closings will take place in the first quarter of next year.

How this affects you: It probably doesn’t directly. But the Christian bookstore market does not seem to have suffered as much as the overall industry. While Borders has closed and Books-A-Million and Barnes and Noble are in various stages of suffering, no high-profile chain has fallen the way Borders has. That having been said, the stress signs are there. Like other sales, Christian sales are moving online, along with Christian music downloads. While Cokesbury probably doesn’t make a dent in your world, the overall trends against brick-and-mortar stores applies to Christian sales, too.

One Comment
  1. November 13, 2012 10:46 am

    I lead a Bible study class, and I used to shop at the Cokesbury Orlando store because it was fast and saved on shipping. They closed it, but there was one in Winter Park. When they closed that one, I picked up a trunkload of books on clearance. Last week, Cokesbury sent me their holiday brochure for my “local” store — in Friutland Park. That this one will close, too, does not surprise me. As much as I like instant gratification, the cost of a drive to Fruitland Park and back approaches the cost of shipping. And of couse, if I can find the books I need at the 8,000 pound gorilla–and I almost always do–I can qualify for free shipping. There’s a reason Amazon is kicking everyone’s tail, and it’s not that they’re evil. It’s that they’re really, really efficient.

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