Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Creative disruption in bookselling: a case in point

This almost seems as if it ought to be a "strange country" post. But it is not. The pictured offering of Mainstreaming Torture from Walmart is real.

Improbable as it may seem, Rebecca's book about which she is currently touring is available through Walmart.

That doesn't mean that it is available in the discount retailer's stores. According to marketing experts, the stores carry about 200 titles, all by famous best selling authors. Much as we might hope, Mainstreaming isn't likely to be among them.

But this is apparently a symptom of an emerging struggle between online and big box retailers for our dollars. Even Walmart fears the Amazon "Borg" will eat them. So Walmart has been dipping a toe into online book sales -- Amazon's original turf. In June when Amazon was impeding sales of Hachette titles in a pricing dispute, Walmart emailed blasted its customers, promoting the availability of the books through its channels.

Some commentators think it would be foolish to bet against Walmart.

Unlike Amazon, Wal-Mart has physical locations that it can use to grow its digital brand. The company has plans to do that by using technology to improve the in-store shopping experience. Over 140 million people visit a Wal-mart store each week, so it would be silly for the company to not look to use both platforms to support each other.

Amazon's competitive advantage over Walmart is its unrivaled, hyper-efficient distribution capacity. Walmart aims to improve its own logistic capacity.

For the moment, I can't say Walmart has made itself competitive on this particular Oxford Press title. Its current listed price is about $5 higher that Amazon's and, to the West Coast, Walmart only promises about 7 day shipping at the regular, "value," level.

But clearly there's a retail war brewing.

1 comment:

Rain Trueax said...

I am torn on the right thing to do regarding this burgeoning movement. I just saw where a hiker in Algeria was beheaded by another of these groups. I am glad it's not up to me to decide how to deal with them but I don't think there is anyway to have a peace with them as it's a philosophy they have that it's their way or death and we've seen that exercised again and again wherever they have power. I don't doubt it'll get to the US as evidently someone in Australia tried to do it to two police officers. I don't think we can be sanguine about it as though it'll go away if we don't do anything but exactly what will work, I have no idea. It's not a good time :(

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