Viking: early book sales ‘promising’

Viking: early book sales ‘promising’

Stationery retailer Viking has reported a “promising” start to its bookselling business, with “several thousand” orders taken since it entered the market in November, and steadily growing customer demand.

The Leicester-based company, owned by Office Depot, began by selling a range of 3,500 partially discounted titles but has now increased that number to 4,600 and plans to expand it further.

John O’Keeffe, commercial director for Office Depot and Viking, said the company began selling books after online weekly polls of its customers suggested a demand for them.

"We are a big supplier of schools and there was a demand for books from the schools market, in terms of novels, textbooks and study guides," he said. "It complements the stationery we sell to staff.  We also had a demand in business titles such as health and safety guides."

O’Keeffe said consumers were responding to the offer: "We have had several thousand orders and more customers are buying books week on week." He added: "We have had a huge amount of interest from the book industry, which took me by surprise."

However, O’Keeffe said Viking would be concentrating on its physical book offering and would not be selling e-books or e-readers "for now". He also said Viking’s book offer remained "very much complementary" to its stationery business and that the company, which employs 1,300 people in the UK, was not looking “to become the biggest bookseller in the world".

Viking said the bookselling market in general seemed tough and the company was trying to offer competitive pricing. It sells the hardback of S J Watson’s Before I go To Sleep (Black Swan) for £10.39, where the r.r.p is £12.99 and Amazon sells it for £7.39.