Booksellers leap into Cyber Monday bargain frenzy

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For some shoppers, post-Thanksgiving shopping means dreams of an Olympus 10.0 Megapixel or a widescreen Bluetooth GPS navigator. But there are also consumers who, come Cyber Monday, would rather score a book. Or several. And these are the shoppers that booksellers were targeting yesterday.

The biggest winner of the book retailers may have been Amazon, which, according to CNN Money, saw its stock climb yesterday "as much as $3.51 a share to an all-time high of $135.25 on belief that the online retailer will benefit from strong weekend holiday-shopping sales."

Within the book world, the e-tailing giant also benefited from a great deal of buzz when company spokesperson Cinthia Portugal told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "For every 100 books we sell in physical, we sell 48 Kindle books. This is up from 35 books for every 100 in May. Our customers tell us they read more with Kindle because they never have to worry about running out of books."

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In general, the company has been close-mouthed about sales of its Kindle e-reader. But Portugal's comment seemed  a tantalizing confirmation of speculation that the number of readers choosing electronic books is growing at a rapid clip.

But the online shopping bustle isn't necessarily bad news for brick-and-mortar bookstores either. Industry newsletter ShelfAwareness gave a shout-out today to two independent bookstores that are learning to turn online retailing to their advantage. Copperfield's Books, a small bookstore cluster in northern California, has upgraded its website and added computer kiosks featuring the site in its eight stores. Customers can browse  and make transactions online, buy gift cards, and check stock in all the Copperfield's Books stores.

According to company CEO Tom Montan, the Copperfield's Books "website has increased our store traffic and sales."

And then Archie Kutz, owner of Lift Bridge Book Shop, Brockport, N.Y.,  told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle that his bookstore has "found ways to make the Web work for it."

Kutz said, "We have used our website as a marketing tool to get people in the store. People are going to shop the way they want to shop; we haven't found a way to stop that. We have, though, been able to get our business out to more people."

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor’s book editor. You can follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/MarjorieKehe.

(Chapter & Verse readers are reminded that they can access the Monitor’s Books podcast either at iTunes or by clicking here.)

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