Physical bookshops not threatened by ebooks says expert

High street bookshops will not be killed off by the rapid rise of digital ebook sales, industry experts have suggested.

With a number of music and movie retailers such as Virgin and Zavvi having been wiped out following the rise of online sales and digital music downloads, industry insiders have claimed bookshops will not follow the same route, instead acting as a physical storefront for digital platforms.

“I don’t think high street book retailers will be forced to close by the rise in digital books,” Sam Hancock, Digital Product Manager at Harper Collins said in an exclusive interview with Trusted Reviews. “Obviously they are going to have to adapt quite radically but I think we will see more of a merging between a physical and digital shopping experience.”

With key high street book sellers such as Waterstones already jumping on the digital ebook revolution, selling eReader devices both in store and online, Hancock has suggested that this merging of retail forms has already begun with digital outlets to partner with physical retailers to provide users with a real-world browsing experience.

“You are already seeing this merging,” Hancock said. “Waterstones has a partnership with Amazon, Blackwells has a partnership with Barnes & Noble and Kobo is working with independent book stores and I think this tie up between physical and digital is only going to increase.

“What’s quite poor at the moment for digital book shops is the discoverability experience. It’s difficult to browse and search isn’t really there to the standard that it should be so you’ve almost got a showroom in the form of the physical book stores.”

Whilst consumers are increasingly turning their back on the high street in favour of arguably more convenient online outlets, Hancock believes that this movement could soon be reversed as online retailers look to increase their physical presence.

“Digital book sellers are starting to realise that they need some sort of physical presence to grow their business,” he said. “Amazon has just as many benefits from its partnership with Waterstones as Waterstones does.”

Are you a digital ebook convert or do you still prefer the feel of a traditional paperback between your hands? Let us know via the Trusted Reviews Twitter and Facebook feeds or through the comment boxes below.

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