American musician Frank Zappa’s regret, ‘So many books, so little time’, aptly sums up the problem facing an avid book-lover in the world of online book shopping. Though many articles have been written about the rise of e-commerce in India, it is the trend of online shopping for books that has really caught on.
Chetali Makhija, a software engineer based in Bengaluru says, ‘Though one gets tempted to splurge on clothes online, there is an apprehension about the quality of stuff because the sense of touch is missing. Personally my experience in buying clothes online has not been very good, because of problems in knowing the right size. But you don’t have to worry about such things when it comes to online shopping for books. Your favourtire books are just a click away and gets delivered to you in just two days.’
According to an Assocham survey, India has registered a miraculous annual growth of 100 per cent in online shopping.The growth of e-commerce in India is not surprising. With the increasing number of Internet users in the country, close to 73.9 million according to research firm ComScore, the third largest in the world after China and US, there is abundant scope for retailers here.
Flipkart, a leading e-commerce company founded in 2007 focused mainly on online business in books, before expanding its product categories a few years ago. However, books remain key the section for the company, contributing more to the company’s revenue than any other segment.
‘According to Nielsen BookScan retail panel data, this year Flipkart alone holds an average of 40-50 per cent in terms of value when it comes to organised books market in India,’ says Flipkart director (retail) Anil Goteti.
Flipkart’s sales volume in the books section is bigger than that of the next three big players combined. The company also plans to expand the category by 50 per cent this year.
Gauging the increasing popularity of these portals, writers surely know that getting their books registered on them should be the first thing to increase exposure to the readers.
Rajiv Seth, writer of the book Never Say Goodbye says registering a book with Flipkart doesn’t guarantee success, but it definitely increases the visibility of the book. ‘Flipkart and other e-commerce portals attract a large number of visitors, especially amongst the younger generation. A large number of books are bought online and so a presence on Flipkart definitely helps,’ he says.
The author feels that the ease with which a person can buy their favourite books from the varied collection available online has changed the book-buying experience for the better.
And, it is not just lack of time to physically visit a bookstore, which has contributed to the acceptance of online portals. Frequent discount schemes, the variety available, the hassle-free buying experience and on-time delivery all sum up to making online book buying popular.
Arup Bose, publisher at Srishti publishers and distributors admits there has been a paradigm shift in buying experience.
‘I would term this development. The exposure is immense. As far as authors are concerned, they are also actively becoming a part of social media marketing campaigns at much lower budget and gaining support from these portals. And as it ensures a wider reach and readership for their works, there is no cause for complaint. And the number of people visiting book stores has decreased.’
Apart from the much-talked about Flipkart e-commerce portal, Ahemedabad-based Infibeam and Homeshop18 attract a good number of buyers. And now, the Indian readers can also access global leader Amazon. How the companies manage the competition remains to be watched. What is notable, however, is that these online portals have made it easier for readers to lose themselves in the
world of printed words.