Offline bookstores in India under threat from online bookstores?

Few days ago Times of India carried an article comparing the prices of books across 3 leading online bookstores. While Flipkart clearly is the winner when it comes to brand recall they lately are being scrutinized heavily in the media. The article was about Flipkart raising the order value from Rs 200 to Rs 300 to avail free shipping.

Book NameCover PriceIndiatimesFlipkartInfibeam
The Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoRs 250Rs 153Rs 163Rs 163
Breakout Nations by Ruchir SharmaRs 599Rs 354Rs 449Rs 449
The Immortals of MeluhaRs 195Rs 116Rs 137Rs 137

I did check the rates of these books in Sapna Book Store in Bangalore. Surprisingly they were not offering any discounts. Lately I had bought many books with them at the same price as these online stores. May be they are getting burnt too and want to avoid getting burnt in this discount war.

Few months or a year ago media blamed Flipkart for selling books at a loss. Now they are not the cheapest but yet they are blamed. Got to love this game.

Today there was an article about majority of Odyssey Book stores shutting by restricting their operations to just 6 of 78 stores across 3 cities. Odyssey book stores is owned by Deccan Chronicle Holdings. The main reason for sales going down is online book shops in India. But it was surprising (and pleasant) to read that ‘libraries’ are hurting offline bookstores. JustBooks is the most popular library in Bangalore.

Sapna Bookstore is a chain in Bangalore. You go to any of their stores you will see how crowded it is. They are able to sustain because they have no frills. May be others can learn from them.

If just not for the cost savings I think online book stores will thrive because of parking problems, congested traffic on our roads these days.

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