Ulrich Riehm; Carsten Orwat; Bernd Wingert
Stuttgart: Akademie für Technikfolgenabschätzung in Baden-Württemberg
Arbeitsbericht Nr. 192, 2001
This study focuses on the online book trading and describes recent developments in the book retailing industry, especially in Germany, analyses the main types of conventional and online book retailers, and investigates and assesses the consequences of these developments. To investigate the consequences of the development within the book retailing industry, the analysis proceeds in steps that encompass the entire book retailing industry, the main developments of Internet use and online commerce, and the technological innovations that are relevant for the production, distribution and consumption of books. Thereby the structure of the study at hand is as follows.
Chapter 1 provides an introduction and describes the research approach which includes interviews with industry experts. In Chapter 2, we explore the book retailing industry and the significant book market trends towards higher market concentration, increasing market share of book store chains as well as the durability of established distribution channels. The evolving kinds and patterns of Internet use and customers' behaviour in electronic commerce as well as their implications for online book retailing are described in Chapter 3.
The three following chapters are the heart of the study. In Chapter 4, we present a survey of recent types of online book retailers and their specific characteristics. The different types include, for example, conventional book retailers with own online branches, conventional book retailers participating in online platforms of book wholesalers, pure online retailers some without their own warehouse and distribution logistics, and pure online exchange platforms for B2C and C2C book trading. Chapter 5 is dedicated to four technological innovations that may have a serious impact on the book retailing industry. We consider (1) the concept of "Books on Demand", (2) "eBooks" as a dedicated reading device and as a comprehensive commercial system, (3) the prototype of a German ebook producer and distributor, as well as (4) the technical and commercial concept to provide and retail digital content in small portions on the Internet. In Chapter 6 we change to a more scientific perspective to test the hypothesis of an intensified "disintermediation" in the book retailing industry. The hypothesis states that internet technology will enable and foster the direct trade connection between producers and consumers and thereby the elimination of the trading middlemen or intermediaries. However, by applying economic theory and practical observations we cannot validate the disintermediation supposal in total. Tendencies of changes in the retail structure appear not to be unidirectional, especially, there are a lot of new online intermediaries with specifically combined roles of retailing. Therefore we shed light on the advantages and disadvantages of online direct distribution, online retailing and conventional retailing of printed and electronic books.
In Chapter 7, the conclusion of the study is drawn in the form of seven statements:
Tel.: +49 (0) 721 / 608 - 23968
Internet: Homepage von Ulrich Riehm