BEA: Indies suffer from "mindshare" to marketshare gap

<p>The &quot;mindshare&quot; enjoyed by independent bookshops in the US is far higher than their market share, a recent survey has suggested.</p><p> Presented at this year&#39;s BookExpo America by Verso Digital&rsquo;s Jack McKeown, the study drew from responses taken in April from 9300 book-buying consumers. The information was targeted to independent bookstores.</p><p>While 23% of book-buyers said that they preferred to shop at indies - as opposed to 22% at chains and 21% online - estimates put the total independent dollar share anywhere from 5-10%, some even less. This latest report tried to find ways to translate mindshare into more sales.</p><p>&ldquo;Avid readers,&rdquo; who spend at least five hours a week reading books, account for 28% of the population and not surprisingly skew female (63%) and to the boomer-and-older demographic. </p><p>With these and others, &ldquo;slippage&rdquo; is a big problem: although indies&rsquo; mindshare among avid readers &ndash; 27% - is even higher than among all book-buyers, too many use them for discovery but make at least some of their purchases elsewhere. McKeown said that 26% of consumers admitted to doing this.</p><p>He added that increasing the frequency of store visits, especially among older avid readers, would be a key driver for closing the mindshare/market share gap. The three factors most likely to do that would be better selection, for which 42% of male readers requested, proximity, and discounting bestsellers. The survey suggested a relatively low discount of 15% would have ample effect on sales. </p><p>Discounting is something many indies have resented and resisted for a very long time, but 43% of avid female readers &ndash; that key demographic &ndash; most want it, when presented with various options.&nbsp; McKeown saw 15% as the optimum discount, calculating that it would produce a 4% sales increase overall.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>As for &ldquo;proximity,&rdquo; targeted internet marketing could provide a boost. Not surprisingly, among the younger cohort (18-34), almost 60% of respondents were willing to give their email address to a local store. But across all respondents who visit indies, 19% were &ldquo;very willing&rdquo; to give their email address, and 26.4% &ldquo;somewhat willing.&rdquo; That translates into a lot of untapped marketing potential.<br />The study also showed the first signs that the e-book market is shifting from early adopters to include &quot;avid readers&quot;. </p><p>&ldquo;Avid e-reader owners are now buying proportionately the same number of e-books that avid readers buy books generally,&rdquo; McKeown said. Yet resistance to e-readers &ldquo;appears to be intensifying&rdquo; among consumers aged 45-plus. The survey put it at 56-65%. </p><p>At least 42% of book buyers said that they were at least &ldquo;somewhat likely&rdquo; to consider bundled e-books, with 28.9% of men younger than 55 saying they were &ldquo;very likely.&rdquo;&nbsp; Less happily, more than 28% of e-reader owners said that they use unregulated torrent services; it increases to 45% in men aged 18-34. </p><p>McKeown, whose previous lives involved executive stints at Random House, S&amp;S, Harper and Perseus, will be testing out some of the survey&rsquo;s findings himself. He will be co-owner of a bookstore that is set to open next month in the Hamptons, Long Island.</p>