Book wholesaler Gardners has begun consulting with independent booksellers over the direction of its consumer website, with one option revealing that booksellers could earn as much as 30% when books are sold at their full RRP. The wholesaler also revealed that discounts on the Hive are unlikely to match those of Amazon.
In a feedback form the company has sent out along with its presentation pack Gardners asks independents to choose from a range of options in order to help "shape the commercials of the site". Options include deciding on the selling price of books on the site, and the remuneration to be received by participating indie bookshops.
The Bookseller revealed this week that the wholesaler was planning a consumer site, with the mood among independent booksellers mixed. The consultation asks for feedback to be sent in by 25th February, so that a direction can be agreed in early March. According to some indies the site was originally slated for a February launch, but has been delayed because of early reaction. But Gardners this week described the site "as a work in progress".
The feedback form asks indies to select three options around the price books will be sold at, which include a Hive Best Price option, or a full RRP option, with a limited number of heavily discounted titles. However, the form says that even the Hive Best Price was "unlikely to be lower than the major internet retailers". A third option simply asks indies to suggest a retail pricing strategy.
Indies are also being asked by Gardners to choose one of three remuneration models for Hive. The first remuneration option would have Hive burdening the costs of running the site, including postage, shopping basket costs and marketing, with participating retailers receiving a payment of 5% from books and 3% from DVDs and e-books “whether the order is profitable or not”. This would allow for all titles to be sold at the Hive Best Price amount, the document says.
The second remuneration package posed is retailers receiving the difference between the Hive Best Price and the higher selling price, whenever books are sold for more money. For example if the book is sold at an RRP of £18.99, and the Hive Best price is £13.80, retailers would get £5.88 which is the difference plus 5%. Using this example, the retailer would receive 31% of the selling price of the book.
The third would vary with retailers receiving between 5-25% remuneration based on the selling price and combined costs of processing the order. However, Gardners warned that this avenue would “inevitably restrict the potential to reduce prices on key titles and leave minimal revenue to be directed into the marketing fund.”
"Option D" asks retailers to suggest a better remuneration method.
The concept behind Hive.co.uk, part of Gardners’ Independent Booksellers Affiliate Programme, is to increase footfall to independent retailers by offering a free delivery service if the customer collects their book from their local bookshop. If indies opt to be a member of Hive, they would receive a unique URL link to their members’ page and help to tap into the e-book market.
Gardners declined to comment when approached by The Bookseller.