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JB Hi-Fi: NOW, Its eBooks

By Oonagh Reidy | Tuesday | 23/04/2013

Extra, extra, read all about it: JB are getting into the ebook trade.

The electronics retailer announced the launch of its latest digital content platform: JB Hi-Fi NOW Books.

Read all about it here.

It already runs a digital music streaming via JB Hi-Fi  Now so has a customer base to start from - users can login with 
their NOW Music account details.

And although still relatively small, the book trade is fast growing here, according to PwC figures and the ebook market in Oz could be worth up to $700m by 2014, - representing almost 25% of all books sold, according to forecasts.

And with tablets, Kindles and Kobo ereader becoming increasingly popular here, the market is ripe.

The move into books was a "No brainer Scott Browning, Marketing Director of JB Hi Fi, told CN.

"Customers are buying devices such as tablets and smartphones along with PC's from us now we can deliver them book content in the same way that we are delivering music content for them." he said.

There are no official figures for ebook sales in Oz (Apple, Amazon and Co do not release sales numbers) but PWC estimates the market was worth $18 million in 2011 ($12m consumer + $6m education titles), an analyst told CN.

The total book market was worth $1.8bn so ebooks value is quite small compared to traditional books market as digital titles sell for as little as $0.99 on market dominator Amazon, who many book publishers and sellers alike loath.

However, according to PwC estimates 2012 saw a rapid market expansion for ebook trade - swelling to $36m - with official estimates on the value of book and ebook industry out in June.

By 2014, it could be worth up to $700 million - so massive growth is predicted.

Its no longer just iBookstore, Google Play  as well as local book retailers like Dymocks have got their act together on digital downloads.

"The more competition against Amazon, the better as it is the dominant force" in the ebook market, says John Page, General Manger of Pages and Pages, a Sydney based book retailer, who welcomed the local retailers forays in the book trade, although voiced some concerns.

Since 2012, Australia is one of the leaders in eBook adoption rates, according to Bowker Global eBook Monitor along with US, UK and India. 

One in five of Aussies surveyed said they had purchased an ebook during a six month period last year

The concentration of sales down under were on adult fiction sand sales are highest among 18-24 year olds - one of JB core demographic who see the retailer as a young, cool brand.

"Lengthy delivery times and insufficient availability of eBook titles are seen as impeding the competitiveness of Australia's booksellers," the Pwc report in 2010 warned.

And since JB also sell ereaders, and like its music service, it can bundle devices and ebooks at competive prices

NOW is also device and platform friendly as bookworms can read NOW ebooks on ereaders, PC, smartphone or tablet via a mobile app on Apple and Android devices. 

There are 250,000 ePub format eBooks and JB says it will be adding "thousands more titles each week."

NOW Books has all subjects covered, fact or fiction, and titles start at $6.99 - $14.99 and is matching leading book retailer Dymocks on price. It also has some free titles.

Take the The Shadowed Throne by K J Taylor for example. JB Now selling it for $14.99, the same price as Dymocks ePub format is selling it for, while the paperback version costs $29.99.

Another good read, Room by Emma O Donogue is also $11.99 at Dymocks and JB NOW is the same price.

JB Now divides books into local categories like Aussie Reads, recommendations and Staff Picks.

Kelly Gallagher, vice-president, Bowker Market Research, said "the market for e-books is experiencing exponential growth internationally, with news each week of new e-readers and specialist e-tailers. Publishers and retailers must adapt to a very changed landscape."

Are video downloads the next thing on JB's content to-do list?

We'll have to wait and see.

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