Survey: Ex-Borders Customers Still Up for Grabs
Some 60% of all book buyers shopped at least once a year at Borders--two-thirds were infrequent visitors--and about 60% of former Borders customers "have yet to appreciably increase their shopping at other bookselling locations," according to a preview of the third annual survey conducted by Verso Digital of consumer book-buying behavior. This means, according to Verso's Jack McKeown, that "an ongoing battle for market share among these customers" will continue into 2012 and beyond that represents both a challenge and an opportunity for independent booksellers.
Slightly over a third of former Borders customers are increasing visits to other book retailers, including online book retailers (36.1%), Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million (27.2%), local independents (23.1%) and big-box retailers (18.3%).
Among other findings from the survey, which will be presented in its entirety by McKeown at the ABA's Winter Institute in New Orleans next week (he will also attend in his role as president of Books & Books Westhampton Beach, Westhampton Beach, N.Y., which opened in 2010), "much of the impact of former Borders customers shopping elsewhere (chains, local indies, online or in big-box retailers) will be experienced around the holidays and other gift-giving occasions," which likely accounts for the holiday sales surge reported by many independents, McKeown said.
The most important factor attracting former Borders customers to indies are discounted bestsellers (35.7%) and easy travel distance (31.6%). The "proximity" factor is a challenge to indies because some 55% of book buyers live or work farther than 10 miles from the closest independent while 56% live or work within 10 miles of a chain bookstore.
The full Verso survey updates some information studied earlier, such as e-book ownership, e-book piracy and the buying patterns of consumers who buy both printed and e-books. The survey also investigates new topics--for example, there will be much more on how readers have changed book buying habits following the closing of Borders last year.
The survey of 2,200 book consumers was conducted between November 29 and December 4 and has a 1.5 point margin of error.