- In a move that expands the e-commerce giant's reach through virtual social groups, Amazon is testing book clubs, according to the company's website. Through the platform, users can create, manage and join book clubs through Amazon's online tools.
- Book clubs are still in an "early access" stage, begun in late August of 2020, where all customers with an Amazon account are able to join clubs for free. A limited number of users can create a new club.
- Additional features are scheduled to roll out, and the ability to create a club will be available to all customers later this year. Users that create a club may customize its details, such as adding current and upcoming books, managing the club's members and setting privacy levels.
When Amazon launched in the mid-'90s it was an online bookseller. While it is now known as "the everything store," Amazon Book Club looks to be a throwback to those early roots.
While Amazon does have a number of brick-and-mortar bookstores, the link between retail and book clubs is traditionally found among independent sellers. By building out the new feature, Amazon is tapping into the social aspect of reading and modernizing tools, so readers may coordinate virtual groups through its online platform. Current public book clubs on the site include "antiracism reading" with over 7,000 members, "memorable memoirs" with nearly 11,000 members and "things that go bump in the night" with over 17,000 members.
Amazon may be launching book clubs at the right moment, building on renewed consumer interest and love of reading during the pandemic. The NPD Group said that 2020 was the bestselling year for U.S. print books in the last decade, with growth occurring in the adult nonfiction, adult fiction, juvenile and teen categories. Unit sales volumes in 2020 rose 8.2% year over year to reach 751 million units.
And Amazon is a big player when it comes to those sales. According to Codex research from September, Amazon's total unit share in book sales was 53%, with its e-book share of 76% and online sales of print books at 69%.
"Sales growth came in waves," Kristen McLean, books industry analyst for NPD Group, said in a statement regarding consumer spending on books in 2020. "All of the additional time spent at home created a big appetite for reading, including huge spikes in sales of cookbooks and do-it-yourself books, which helped people stay entertained and engaged."