Mangalore: Changing Trends - Online Buying Takes Toll on Local Book Stores

Mangalore: Changing Trends - Online Buying Takes Toll on Local Book Stores
Prakash Samaga
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore
Mangalore, Mar 16:
Reading habits among people, especially the young generation, has been a matter of concern of late, given the decline in the number of enthusiastic readers flocking book shops in the city. However, the picture is not completely heartbreaking, for, an alternate method of shopping for books - the online way - has struck the right chord with the people. Indeed, the online buying trend proves that the younger generation hasn’t completely become the prey of TV reality shows or computer games.

For the reader, after all, it doesn't make a difference whether he or she buys online or from the shop, but for the retailer it is indeed a loss as his livelihood depends on it.
One buyer says that unlike purchasing a book by going to the shop personally, online buying of books gives the buyer several advantages like discounts, readers' reviews, choice of various publications and hence choice of price, latest books, home delivery, and all this, without any hassle. Moreover, the books are categorized neatly into various topics like science, fiction, biographies, self-help, health, living etc, which makes it easier for the reader to search for any particular book, along with all the related information like price, excerpts, contents etc. True, in book shops too they are neatly arranged, but searching for a book online is many times easier. Also, the actual price is also comparitively less than the original price of the book, with discounts ranging from 5 to 50 percent.

Moreover, many of the books that are not available in shops can be easily found on the Internet, given the wide variety of choice and the number of websites that deal with books. A student of MA English in the city told daijiworld that several literary books and novels, especially rare ones by lesser-known postcolonial authors which could not be found in any of the books shops, were available online, that too for cheaper, affordable rates. "I bought almost all my books on literature online, not only for myself but also for my classmates who could not get them anywhere else," said the student.

Another trend, though yet to catch up in the city, is that of e-books, or digital books, wherein books are available in downloadable formats on the Internet. These books can be read on e-book readers like Kindle, on computers, iPads or mobile phones, and they may be or may not be charged, depending on the website. One advantage of e-books is that they are highly portable and you don't need to actually carry a book around. When the world is moving towards a paperless society, the day is not far when this trend would become a common practice. However, for one who enjoys the sheer activity of reading, the joy obtained from an actual, tangible book would not be the same as reading on phone.
Nevertheless, there still exists the category of bookworms that likes to ponder over on a book before buying it - peeping into pages, reading titles of the chapters and going through the book intro on the back cover - and hence following the ‘traditional’ way of buying books from shops.
Harish Kumar, branch manger of Nava Karnataka Publications Private Ltd says that there has been a decline in the sale of mainly English novels and story books, as compared to Kannada books. Regarding discounts on online buying, he said major online book dealers buy books from the distributors in bulk through which they get up to 50 percent discount. However, retail book dealers get comparatively less discount,  which makes it impossible to give discounts on par with those offered by online shopping sites.

Earlier, pirated books hindered their sales, though only 'one time readers' preferred buying them from street vendors. Genuine readers have always gone for books of good quality from authorized dealers. Now, the online buying trend has brought about decline in sales to some extent, he said.

Harish added that in the past two years there has been 30 to 40 percent decline in sales. Pointing out demerits of online buying of books, he said, "Readers do 'guess work' as they cannot be sure of being satisfied with the book beforehand."

To a remark on decline in reading trends among the young generation, he said it was a wrong notion and that every year there has been an increase of 10 to 15 percent of young readers in spite of the ‘online buying trend’.
Spiritual books dealer William D’Souza of Good News book centre in the city, functioning for the past 35 years, opines that online buying to some extent would have affected the sales of spiritual books too, however, most customers prefer to visit the shop as they get personal suggestion from the staff as to which book to buy.

All said and done, no matter where the world reaches, there will always be people who would write books, and people who would read them.


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Comment on this article

  • Usha shetty Madodi, Mangalore

    Sat, Mar 24 2012

    Mangalorean accepts change dynamics immediately

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • haseena, karkala

    Sun, Mar 18 2012

    Reading trend indeed stable among rural people. In cities people becoming blind followers of TV media.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ted, Mangalore

    Sun, Mar 18 2012

    Well Physical Book stores with very soon be antique houses, however physical books also will be history, it is the generation of books in online format for reading on Tablets( Apple IPAD,Samsung Galaxy) or E Readers( Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook Book). In terms of encyclopedia Wikipedia in online format is the leader... I recommend people who own Physical Book Stores to shut down or sell off ASAP.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rihan, Dubai

    Sat, Mar 17 2012

    Everything should change with advice to Book stall owners is close your shops and open a net cafe...its good business now...

    DisAgree [2] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shyam, Kasaragod

    Sat, Mar 17 2012

    Times change and every business has changed with time- only those who are with the pace of change can survive with most of the lines of business. Also this is a good lesson for those who used to play a monopoly game in book stores. I remember as a child, i wanted to read a book and went a book store and the book store owner rebuked me "Why do you need to read such a book which is not available in Mangalore?". Today, no child like me will have to hear this kind of rebuking words !!

    DisAgree Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rudolf, Loretto/Mumbai/Mangalore

    Sat, Mar 17 2012

    Thanks Daiji for bringing to highlight the dwindling demand for books. This comes at a right time as just a few days back I read that Britannica has decided to stop printing any further of its encyclopedia series, will concentrate on the digital version. The trend suggests that the this is the beginning of the end for the print media!!

    DisAgree [1] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • L N Rego, Bendur

    Sat, Mar 17 2012

    Leaders Are Readers as the saying goes, modern world demands leadership in every field. Reading is the best way to enhance the knowledge and fine tune the weak Areas. No matter how advance the world becomes there is no substitute (At least at present)for reading.
    Its a wake up call to the younger generation. Spend quality time in reading value added books.
    Traditional book stores can upgrade their sales strategies with the modern marketing technologies.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • R.Bhandarkar, M

    Sat, Mar 17 2012

    Buying online with discount does not change 'content'
    Need of the hour-'Readers with 'Intent'
    (Capital 'I' intended)

    DisAgree Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

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