Bertelsmann's Club to open to public

Bertelsmann's Club to open to public

Bertelsmann's Direct Group is to open to the public all of the retail stores operated by its  ailing German book club operation Der Club.

Previously the group allowed only members into the chain, a strategy which impacted a limited number of branches. From 1st July all shops will be open to the public.

To sidestep the strict rules imposed by the law that settles fixed book prices in Germany and to allow everyone to buy licensed club editions, Der Club will introduce a "one book, two price" strategy: customers are asked to pay the full price on books but those with a "bonus card" will get a discount of up to 25% on the approximately 1,500 club titles each shop carries.

In addition Bernd Schröder, who took over as managing director of Direct Group Germany in 2009, has also announced a new bonus system: in future the available discount will not depend on the cumulative membership years but be defined on how much the customer is spending over the course of 12 months in the shops or online.

Direct Group’s German book club operation owns a chain of 226 retail shops of which 166 are run under the name Der Club and 60 under the Zeilenreich brand that was introduced less than two years ago.

While Bertelsmann c.e.o. Hartmut Ostrowski has repeatedly stressed that the German media giant will hold onto its book club, which is still something of an institution mainly among older Germans, observers see the latest move as a last chance for Der Club.