News

2010 retailer discounts total £600m

Retailers slashed a total of £600m from the price of books in 2010 as book-buyers enjoyed their best year for bargains since records began.

The average discount given off a book's r.r.p. last year was 26%— slightly deeper than in 2009, when books were discounted by an average of 25.5%, according to Nielsen BookScan data. This means that for the ninth consecutive year, since BookScan Total Consumer Market records began in 2001, discounts have deepened. In 2001, discounts averaged a much shallower 17%.

In value terms, the £600m given away by retailers last year was relatively flat in comparison to 2009 (when £602m was shed) although inflation is not factored into the totals. However, record discounting wasn't sufficient to boost overall book sales, which fell 3% year on year, to £1.696bn, in value terms, and fell 4%, to 225.5 million in volume.

Jamie Oliver's Jamie's 30-minute Meals (Michael Joseph) was the most discounted title in value terms as retailers gave away £14.5m on r.r.p. sales of £30.4m. The £26 hardback sold at an average selling price of just £13.59 last year, or a 47.7% discount. The book was also the year's bestselling title.

Sainsbury's buying manager, Phil Carroll, said that Jamie's 30-minute Meals was "by far" the supermarket's bestselling book over the Christmas period. The store sold the book for £8.99. Despite this, Carroll said the retailer's average selling price across all books rose. "We actually increased our average selling price last year overall by 11%, so we cannot be accused of being the worst (i.e. highest discounting) at all."

More than £10m was also given away by retailers on sales of the latest edition of Guinness World Records (Guinness, £20), which sold for just £9.65 on average, and Nigella Lawson's Kitchen (Chatto, £26), which retailed at £13.84 on average.

Fiction was the most discounted genre in percentage terms last year, with an average of 30% knocked off the price of novels, for a total giveaway of £199m.

Adult trade non-fiction and children's titles were discounted by an average of 26% in comparison, while adult specialist non-fiction titles were discounted by a far -shallower 17%.

Keith How, who has run The Bakewell Bookshop in Bakewell, Derbyshire, since 1977, is worried publishers are deliberately putting up the prices of stock in order to allow larger retailers to make sizeable discounts. He decided- not to stock Oliver's book because he said the book was too expensive to sell at £26 when customers could buy it much cheaper elsewhere or on the internet. "I am concerned publishers are guilty of overpricing to enable discounting. It is destroying the independent book trade."

Marketing consultant Damian Horner said that discounting the most popular books over the festive season was an "unsustainable model". "Most of the books discounted over the Christmas period are the books people most want to buy," he said. "Therefore the price of the book should reduce over time and be at its highest when people most want it."

Leading retail analyst Nick Bubb, of Arden Partners, said heavy discounting was just a fact of the marketplace. "The worth of books has been devalued. Few people want to pay full price for a bestseller now."

Comments: Scroll down for the latest comments and to have your say

By posting on this website you agree to the Bookseller comments policy. Comments go direct to live please be relevant, brief and definitely not abusive. Report any "unsuitable comments by clicking the links"

This is totally a "non story". RRP's have nothing to do with the price a book is sold for. No one would pay £26.00 for Jamie Oliver. Move on!

This is one of the myriad reasons the High Street book trade is dying.
Give it 12 - 18 months and I'll be very surprised to see a 'name' bookshop still trading anywhere other than online.

And the solution is so simple and obvious. Publishers give retailers a discount off the RRP. The RRP is printed on the book. Remove the RRP and customers then make a judgement call on the product whichever shop they are in, because they KNOW that the big A etc. will have it at half the price printed very helpfully on the book by the publisher.

And it doesn't create loads of work stickering stock, so let's not have that old chestnut as a suggestion. And indies could (continue, I guess) to source their stock from supermarkets etc etc. Well done to Bakewell Bookshop for taking a stand.

im afraid in other countries the agent or distributor make bookstores sell the jame at 26 pounds, total rip off, but then make deals with other ppl, who buy lots of copies to sell the book at 10 pounds

Time are changing and its going to take more then just discounting of books to make your pounds

How many commodoties have a rrp printed on them ? (not many in a supermarket from what I can see)The only ones I ever see are in post offices or mini marts where products have prices printed on ie stupid prices that convenience stores charge -so why on books???????
Answer because most printed prices on celeb biogs are artificially stupid --so yes,no prices on books and therefore no money off stickers!!!

can I also add that printing a price on a book is irritating when giving a present.
cds and dvds dont have printed prices- so why are books so special -everyone compares the price on Amazon anyhow if price is the issue.

The answer is clear, we (as in Waterstone's) need to BEAT Amazon on price, and then sell advertising space in stores! New P.O.S - Valentine's Gifts in association with Ralph Lauren! Fiction 3 for 2s brought to you by Nintendo Wii! This is the only way the high street bookshop will survive, pimp out the POS and all signage in the shops! Cheaper prices will bring more footfall to make the advertising space more attractive too.

The (manufacturer's) recommended retail price (RRP) of a product is the price which the manufacturer recommends that the retailer sell the product. The intention was to help to standardize prices among locations.......

Much of the time, stores charge less than the suggested retail price depending upon the actual wholesale cost of each item, usually purchased in bulk from the manufacturer, or in smaller quantities through a distributor......

Recommended prices can also be manipulated to be unreasonably high, allowing retailers to use deceptive advertising by showing the excessive price and then their actual selling price, implying to customers that they are getting a bargain.....

This is totally a "non story". RRP's have nothing to do with the price a book is sold for. No one would pay £26.00 for Jamie Oliver. Move on!

This is one of the myriad reasons the High Street book trade is dying.
Give it 12 - 18 months and I'll be very surprised to see a 'name' bookshop still trading anywhere other than online.

And the solution is so simple and obvious. Publishers give retailers a discount off the RRP. The RRP is printed on the book. Remove the RRP and customers then make a judgement call on the product whichever shop they are in, because they KNOW that the big A etc. will have it at half the price printed very helpfully on the book by the publisher.

And it doesn't create loads of work stickering stock, so let's not have that old chestnut as a suggestion. And indies could (continue, I guess) to source their stock from supermarkets etc etc. Well done to Bakewell Bookshop for taking a stand.

im afraid in other countries the agent or distributor make bookstores sell the jame at 26 pounds, total rip off, but then make deals with other ppl, who buy lots of copies to sell the book at 10 pounds

Time are changing and its going to take more then just discounting of books to make your pounds

How many commodoties have a rrp printed on them ? (not many in a supermarket from what I can see)The only ones I ever see are in post offices or mini marts where products have prices printed on ie stupid prices that convenience stores charge -so why on books???????
Answer because most printed prices on celeb biogs are artificially stupid --so yes,no prices on books and therefore no money off stickers!!!

can I also add that printing a price on a book is irritating when giving a present.
cds and dvds dont have printed prices- so why are books so special -everyone compares the price on Amazon anyhow if price is the issue.

The answer is clear, we (as in Waterstone's) need to BEAT Amazon on price, and then sell advertising space in stores! New P.O.S - Valentine's Gifts in association with Ralph Lauren! Fiction 3 for 2s brought to you by Nintendo Wii! This is the only way the high street bookshop will survive, pimp out the POS and all signage in the shops! Cheaper prices will bring more footfall to make the advertising space more attractive too.

The (manufacturer's) recommended retail price (RRP) of a product is the price which the manufacturer recommends that the retailer sell the product. The intention was to help to standardize prices among locations.......

Much of the time, stores charge less than the suggested retail price depending upon the actual wholesale cost of each item, usually purchased in bulk from the manufacturer, or in smaller quantities through a distributor......

Recommended prices can also be manipulated to be unreasonably high, allowing retailers to use deceptive advertising by showing the excessive price and then their actual selling price, implying to customers that they are getting a bargain.....