The world is constantly changing. Since book lovers of all kinds are a part of this world, they’re changing too. Digital solutions are getting more present every day, either to replace something or as an addition to something. That’s why Norwegian publishers and bookstores need to realize that there is a big potential to be exploited. Right now it seems they don’t.
The gas station
An idea really struck me a few months ago during a visit to a Norwegian gas station. Usually I pay for my gas outside by the pumps, but this time I needed something in the store, and went inside to get it. When I wiped my card to pay, the girl behind the counter told me that by entering my phone number on the payment terminal, I would automatically register to a loyalty program; giving me a 10 cent discount per liter every time I wiped my card. Since I didn’t have to spend a lot of time and energy filling out different forms, I found it a pretty good deal and went for it. And even before I reached my doorstep, I received an sms from the gas station, telling me how to complete the registration. Really quick and easy. These things are often irritating and time consuming, but not this one.
I am not saying that publishers and bookstores should do exactly the same thing as gas stations. But the gas station example could surely inspire publishers and bookstores to get to know their customers better, and to dig deeper into the digital world of eBooks and apps. It is obvious there is a lot to gain by taking advantage of these digital opportunities.
Why not jump on the bandwagon? E-books and apps are always in stock without taking up much space, and they are always just a couple of clicks away. You just need to know where to find them.
How come the industry is still hesitating?
Publishers don’t know their digital customers well enough, and hence neither the possibilities created by digital solutions nor how to market their digital products. Also, the customers don’t know the digital products available or where to find them when they are in “buying mode”. It is complicated to find the actual products, even though there are loads of sites selling them.
Take ebok.no (the biggest Norwegian digital book store) as an example. Have Norwegian book lovers even heard of it? Some of us – of course – have, but too many haven’t. Still ebok.no doubled its turnover in 2015 (compared to 2014), and the positive trend – according to statistics from Den norske forleggerforening – doesn’t seem to end.
What about the sites put up by the bookstores? Do they sell eBooks and apps? Of course they do, but it seems they still rank the physical product higher, in spite of the increase of digital readers.
There’s a huge android market too. With over 10 million downloads last year, Aldiko Book Reader is an example of a great, small app in an aspiring market. These apps are user friendly and easy for the reader to handle with their eBook.
In a competitive and tough market both publishers and bookstores need to get in closer contact with potential customers to increase sales. They need to get to know their customers by getting their names and contact info. If this works out they can even send different information – based on interest – to different customers.
The main key:
- When someone buys something in a physical bookstore, the store needs to establish a relation with the customer right away, by getting them into a customer register.
- Paperwork is not a good thing – unless the store wants to scare their customers away. Therefore the register process needs to be quick and easy. Entering a phone number on the payment terminal – like they do in gas stations – is a possible way of doing this.
Sale doesn’t have to be pushy. At least not if you do it the gas station way. If this works out successfully, the bookstore will be able to adapt their marketing to individual taste, whether it is digital or physical. Making the product «one click away» also makes the threshold for buying lower. As a result publishers and bookstores will be able to sell more books, and authors will be even more inspired to write them. This will be a win-win situation. Even customers would profit from this.
So yes, I would like an app with that.