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Bookstores pilot bundling digital, print copies of the same titles

Bookstores are fighting back against Amazo as Barnes & Noble partners with Google for same-day book deliveries while independent bookstores pilot a program bundling physical books with the same title in ebook format.

Bookstores are looking for new solutions to address challenges brought on by the growth of digital book sales. HarperCollins Publishers, book distributor Ingram and ebook platform BookShout are offering the bundling program, with 11 independent bookstores participating, including Greenlight in Brooklyn, NY and Book People in Austin, TX.

“Mobile technology makes reading easier,” said Jason Illian, CEO and founder of BookShout. “Studies have shown that people with devices, read more books than those without.

“We definitely see a trend toward reading the same book both in print and digital – with each medium having its own upsides and working in tandem to benefit the reader.

“In fact, we’re currently working on a project that will give booksellers and publishers a way to marry the two- everybody wins.”

More choice
Barnes & Noble is also looking for ways to give shoppers more shopping choices and has partnered with Google to have any item delivered the same day via Google Shopping Express at stores in Manhattan, San Francisco and West Los Angeles.

The bundling program being piloted by independent bookstores allows shoppers to buy a physical copy of a book and for a small upcharge receive a digital version of the same book.

The stores feature eye-catching displays to increase reader awareness that feature the tagline “Have It Both Ways.”

Sales of digital books are growing as consumers embrace smartphones, tablets and ereaders for their reading needs, putting pressure on bricks-and-mortar retailers, who are seeing their sales decline.

By giving consumers more choices as to how they read a book, the hope is that this will better meet consumers’ reading needs and help independent bookstores better compete against online retailers such as Amazon.

The hope is to expand the program to more bookstores in the future.

Bundling books
The first round of books from HarperCollins available in the programs includes Amanda Coplin’s The Orchardist, Richard Ford’s Canada, Erika Johansen’s The Queen of the Tearling, Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, and Jacqueline Winspear’s The Care and Management of Lies.

When readers purchase the bundle of one of these books, they will receive a code that allows them to get their digital copy at BookShout. Bookshout is accessible on iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire HD, Nook HD/HD+ or the Web.

The stores that are participating in the program include Village Books in Bellingham, WA, Quail Ridge in Raleigh, NC, Rainy Day Books in Fairway, KS and Anderson’s in Naperville, IL.

“Readers are everywhere – and so is mobile technology,” Mr. Illian said. “Why not leverage the two?

“We believe independent booksellers are extremely passionate about the written word and want to share the experience of reading whenever possible,” he said.

“Independent booksellers are also smart – they understand their audience and are willing to do whatever makes sense to reach them where they read.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York