Bookselling culture and consumer behaviour: marketing strategies and responses in traditional and online environments.
Laing, Audrey Frances
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This research examines the implementation of marketing both by chain and online booksellers, and consumer responses to this marketing and a reading of the current trade press revealed calls for research into consumer wants and needs (Watson, 2002; Holman, 2007; Horner, 2007a). While BML (Book Marketing Limited) carries out a valuable range of research into publishing and bookselling on an ongoing basis, nevertheless, both are relatively new research areas, and bookselling is particularly underdeveloped. It would appear that research in the field of bookselling has yet to be examined in an academic context. With specific respect to the development of a comprehensive understanding of consumer responses to bookshop marketing, the research is original, timely and useful, and builds upon the foundations of existing research, as detailed above. The mixed-method approach adopted in this study enhanced the level of triangulation possible, with interviews, surveys and focus groups serving to consolidate and support sets of results. This empirical research has uncovered rich source material from consumers both online and offline, revealing complex responses to traditional and online bookselling environments. Key original findings include: the widespread perception of homogeneity across chain bookshops by consumers; the presence of a coffee shop can enhance the concept of the bookshop as a social space and that consumer behaviour online was found to tend towards linear, goal-oriented book buying, whereas traditional book shopping tends to be much more about browsing, and have a serendipitous quality to it. The research has developed a comprehensive understanding of the approaches to marketing taken by chain booksellers, but more especially, the range of consumer responses and behaviour in both traditional chain and online bookshops. It has built upon the existing scholarly material available in these fields, as well as extending and developing research in the new academic field of bookselling. There is considerable scope for further investigation in both traditional and online bookselling, as outlined in the Conclusions chapter, building on the findings emerging from this research.