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Are Bookstores Obsolete Yet?

Are Bookstores Obsolete Yet?


What we’re seeing

Physical books aren’t dead yet and Alkami Research data shows that Americans still have a preference for paper over Ereaders.  Alkami Research compared year over year sales of the largest physical book store, Barnes & Noble, with sales from the leader in eBook sales, Amazon Kindle.

In the transaction panel from 2023, Alkami Research identified 245 percent more Barnes & Noble sales, measured by dollar volume, than Amazon Kindle sales.  Sales on eBooks have closed the gap since 2019, when Barnes & Noble sales were 408 percent greater, but physical books seem to have a lasting appeal and are still clearly the preferred method of reading for consumers.

Not surprisingly, payment patterns between physical book buyers and eBook buyers are different. The average eBook consumer in 2023 had 8.55 transactions and spent $9.64 per transaction, likely just buying a single book at a time. In contrast, the average physical book buyer purchased 2.61 times and spent $37.51 per transaction.  Overall, physical book buyers spent an average of $98.09 at bookstores in 2023 while eBook readers spent a total of $82.43 in the year. 19.4 percent of consumers who shopped at either Barnes & Noble or Amazon kindle in 2023 actually shopped at both. These super readers had a light preference for ebooks, spending 10 percent more on ebook purchases than they did on physical books for the year. Super readers spent $134.93 on books in 2023, 37.5 percent more than bookstore shoppers and 63.7 percent more than ebook buyers. 


Takeaway and Call to Action

Even as physical bookstores show staying power, for digital stores, card on file is as important as subscription payments for ensuring top of wallet status. Some eBooks are included with a subscription, but most are bought a la carte.  Financial institutions can build a campaign around having its debit card on file with the account holder’s eBook store to ensure a continuous stream of interchange and deepening the relationship with stickiness.

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