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Brick-and-Mortar Two-fer: New ABA President On “Brilliant” King; UK Bookstore Poll Shows 63% of Customers “Showroom”

New ABA president Steve Bercu managed to praise Stephen King and take a swipe at the Justice Department all in the same sentence during his first official communication to the membership since taking office.

“I want to give a little shout-out to Stephen King and Hard Case Crime for their brilliant and retro treatment of Joyland,” Bercu, CEO of BookPeople in Austin, TX says in a letter posted on the ABA site.  “After reading about the odd take on windowing in the trial brought on by the misguided efforts of the Department of Justice to help out Amazon, it is wonderful to see someone understanding the value that windowing really brings to this and any other book. I intend to sell as many as possible to do my part to make this little experiment a success.”

The Apple price-fixing trial in June included discussion of publishers using windowing–holding back digital versions to give more expensive hardcover copies a chance to sell first–in their ill-fated attempts to prevent Amazon’s $9.99 ebook pricing from diminishing the perceived value of books. This spring King released his latest book in print only, saying he wanted readers to buy it at bookstores.

In a sign of the challenges facing bricks and mortar retailers, 63 percent of consumers admitted to using bookstores for “showrooming“– looking at a book before purchasing it online, according to a new study by the Booksellers Association, the ABA’s counterpart in the UK.

Dennis Abrams writes in Publishing Perspectives:

The survey of 2,045 UK book buyers found that while young people felt (or at least admitted to feeling) guiltier than older shoppers about using bookstores as showrooms, they were actually more likely to do so. (Almost 76% of 16- to 24-year-olds said that they browsed a brick-and-mortar bookstore before buying online, compared with 51.7% of those over 55 who confessed to doing the same thing.)

He adds:

Even so, UK shoppers still place a high value on bookstores, with 68 percent of consumers saying that they are still the best place to discover new titles.

The trick, of course, is finding a way for those bookstores to capture that value.