Young book-buyers 'put off Amazon'

Young book-buyers 'put off Amazon'

Young people have been put off buying from Amazon after recent revelations about the company's tax affairs, according to a study commissioned by the Booksellers Association.

The results, taken from a survey of over 2,000 book buyers in the UK, showed that 70.8% of 16-24 year-olds said recent revelations about internet-only booksellers' tax affairs made them less likely to shop for books online, as did 59.5% of the overall shoppers questioned.

Amazon has recently received negative press attention after investigations showed it only paid a £3.2m in tax last year, despite overall UK sales of £4.2bn.

The survey, which coincides with Independent Booksellers Week (running until this Saturday 6th July), was commissioned to gain a further insight into consumer book buying and spending habits in the UK and was conducted across 16-80 year-olds by Censuswide between 24th May and 3rd June 2013.

The research also revealed that an overwhelming majority of people (91.7%) think action needs to be taken to support the high street and a significant 88% of British book buyers are concerned that there are fewer bookshops on the high streets than 5 years ago. Meanwhile, over two thirds (77%), think bookshops make high streets more appealing.

So-called "showrooming", where customers use physical bookshops to find books they then go on to buy online was a serious concern highlighted, with 63.5% admitting to the practice. London is the worst region in the UK for showrooming, according to the survey, where almost a quarter of people showroom regularly (69.4%), while the North East is also bad with 26% regularly showrooming. Despite the negative statistics, the survey showed strong support for physical bookshops, with 68% saying bookshops are best place to discover new books and 66% preferring to pick up a book before they buy it, which shopping online prevents.

The BA's head of membership services, Meryl Halls, said bookshops demonstrated "ingenuity and creativity" in reaching their customers but are having to "fight tooth and nail to remain commercially viable".

She said: "It's fair to say that these results show a mixed picture about the consumer book buying market. Clearly shoppers value bookshops highly as places to discover books and gifts, and most people still prefer to pitch up and feel a real physical book in their hands before choosing to buy.

"However, consumers are turning to technology to check competing ways to purchase, which in some cases leads to a shop losing sales."

She added: "Bookshops are among the many high street retailers to be hit by the new concept of showrooming… but showrooming is just one of a variety of pressures bookshops are facing, with other issues such as rising rents, high business rates, lack of town centre parking and the unfair tax arrangements of multinationals also playing a role."