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Marcia Hughes reports
"Evidence shows that unlike our US counterparts, we're still tapping into this cut price market."
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Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 11:25 GMT
Bargain books - for a limited period only
High Street bookshop
Customers make the most of discounting
Book discounting is big business in the UK - but there are signs that the price war could soon be over. The BBC's Marcia Hughes reports.

Buying the latest best-seller is now a luxury most of us can afford thanks to the huge discounts available on the high street, and the offers, sometimes up to 50%, from online retailers.

But in the US, it seems that a more sober approach is being adopted.

There are already signs that the discount fever they've been enjoying could be waning.

Companies are faced with pressures for growth and have to cut costs.

Now both the high street stores and the internet are beginning to reduce the generous discounts they've been offering.

But will the UK soon be taking a leaf out of the US book?

Lesley Mills, Waterstones
Shops will continue discounts

Price war

In the US, the large bookstores have slowly started to lower their discounts which suggests the discount book fever may be cooling.

Over here - the discount era is still thriving.

It started properly in the UK five years ago when the Net Book agreement was abolished.

Price competition increased on the high street and the large chains began a price war on discounted books.

Evidence shows that unlike our US counterparts, we're still tapping into this cut price market.

Lesley Mills form Waterstones says they have now plans to start raising their prices.

But she admits that "much depends on how successful we are in sales of the books that we promote or that we discount."

"Plans are to maintain the level of discounting that we are now running."

As well as knocking pounds off the price of a book, more creative discounting like buying three books for the price one are very popular with customers.

Discounts in many bookshops seem to be alive and kicking. But these do not compare to the huge discounts available online.

The strategy is to try and get as many customers as possible in these early days

Steve Bohme, Book Marketing Limited

Internet retailers have attracted customers not only because they offer bigger discounts but because they offer them across the board.

But for just how long they can continue to do so is now the big question.

Steve Bohme from Book Marketing Limited suggests that the pattern may change as the companies will at some point have to turn around a profit.

Something that is very difficult to achieve when offering such discounts.

It seems that the strategy "is to try and get as many customers as possible in these early days when they are able to offer the discount" says Bohme.

Online retailers in the UK may soon have to start reducing their generous discounts.

It's already started in the US.

If the high street follows suit, the days of the bargain best-seller will start to wane.

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