High street stalwart Argos is planning to launch e-books on its website in a bid to grow its recently launched book offer.
The retailer launched its online bookselling site earlier this year and said because digital was key in a developing book industry, it soon planned to offer customers e-books, perhaps in time for Christmas. Theunis Scheepers from the Argos business development team said: "We are definitely looking to go into e-books and work with our partners to offer that to customers." The retailer also said it would not rule out producing its own e-reader in the future.
Since Argos began selling 5,000 titles online in April, Laura Dove from the Argos business development team said the number of shoppers to the site had "exceeded expectations" and the retailer was "pleased" with its book sales figures. Recently, the chain retailer started selling 93 titles through its latest catalogue, which is available in the chain's 700 stores across the UK and Ireland.
The company is also planning to increase its online book range in the run-up to Christmas, which it will advertise through flyers. However, Dove said Argos was still learning about the bookselling industry and monitoring what sells well to their customers. She said: "It is still early days for us; we are still seeing what works." The retailer has concentrated on selling more children's and family books, which Dove said felt like a "natural" route for the retailer to go down, considering the company sells a vast range of children's toys. She said Argos did not see itself "competing directly in fiction" but the retailer had had successes in books suitable as gifts, such as autobiographies and cookery books. She highlighted J K Rowling's Harry Potter series (Bloomsbury) and Justin Bieber's autobiography First Step 2 Forever: My Story (HarperCollins) as standout sellers for the chain.
Scheepers said Argos saw itself picking up the bookselling void left by Woolworths when the chain closed, attracting a similar customer base. He said: "We are going to grow the book market outside the normal channels and give incremental sales to books. We are trying to pick up a part of the market that died a few years ago. We want to offer customers the best value we can. Books are competitive, so we are not going to be able to always be the cheapest."