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Booksellers power on with online discounts

Booksellers’ post-Christmas sales are well underway, with retailers offering discounts of up to 75% online in what is being hailed as a “record-breaking” year for internet sales shopping.

Figures released today (27th December) state that 113 million online visits were to retail websites on Boxing Day yesterday, a record-breaking figure, but lower than the 126 million predicted, according to Experian.

The lower figure was probably due to many retailers holding major sales before Boxing Day this year in a sales creep, the research company said. Amazon, for example, began its annual Boxing Day sale on Christmas Day, selling physical books for up to 60% off bestselling and frontlist titles such as Miranda Hart’s Is it Just Me? (Hodder and Stoughton), priced at £9 (r.r.p £20) and Bradley Wiggins’ My Time autobiography for £8 (r.r.p £20) (Yellow Jersey). The sale is due to run until 1st January.

Meanwhile, in what has been predicted as a record-breaking year for e-reader and tablet device sales in the UK over Christmas, Amazon is offering selected books for 99p in its “biggest sale yet” on a 12 Days of Kindle promotion. In the company’s Kindle e-book chart as of 27th December, a huge eight out of the Top 10 Kindle books chart were selling for 20p, including Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Canongate) which featured in the number one spot, Safe House by Chris Ewan (Faber) which featured in the second spot and The Hundred Year-old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (Hesperus Press), the third bestseller. The 20p e-book price offer, which has previously caused controversy in the industry, is being driven by the Sony e-reader store, which began offering some frontlist titles for that price in a launch promotion several months ago, which Amazon then price-matched.

Other bookseller sale promotions include W H Smith continuing its "up to 75% off" offer on physical books, highlighted by a red "Sale" banner on its website and Blackwell’s has begun a 50% off sale on many of its titles online. Waterstones emailed customers on Christmas Day with a 12 Days of Christmas promotion, which it says includes a blog every day through the 12 days of Christmas, free short stories, recipes, competitions “and more”. The company is offering “at least” 30% of "popular paperbacks" on its website.

Last week (21st December) The Bookseller reported that publishers were slashing e-book prices and preparing to work on online, marketing and social media offer through Christmas, amid predictions that a record number of e-readers and tablets will be given as presents this year.