EXCLUSIVE:JB Hi Fi Moves Into The Digital Books Business Up Against Google & Amazon
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JB Hi Fi has moved into the book business with the launch of a new online book portal that delivers books at the same price as Google and Amazon.

According to Scott Browning, Marketing Director of JB Hi Fi, the move into books was a “No brainer”.

“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.

The new JB Hi-Fi NOW Books platform ranges the latest fiction and nonfiction books from a mix of local and International publishers.

According to Browning the company has been planning to move into books for several months but was held up because of recent court cases in the USA involving Apple and Amazon.

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The new website https://books.jbhifi.com.au has over two hundred and fifty thousand ePub format eBooks with the retailer claiming that thousands more titles will be added to the website each week.

“Using the JB Hi-Fi NOW Books app which is available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices users will be able to get access to books that have only been available on overseas web sites via the new JB Hi Fi books site,” said Browning.

He said that he was uncertain as to whether their existing Music Now customers were “book readers” but he did say that “it was a good database to start their book business with”.

When asked about the threat to book retailers in Australia John Page, the General Manger of Pages and Pages, a Sydney based book retailer, who is also President of the Australian Booksellers Association, said “The more competition against Amazon, the better as it is the dominant force in the ebook industry”.

But Mr. Page doesn’t think JB will be successful in its ebook venture as “it lacks book knowledge” and information about customer tastes “…unless they hire some book people” he told CN. 

“As an electronics retailer, I can’t see them having too much of an impact.” 

“Amazon is the main player, and the rest of the market is still trying to catch up” 

Page believes the Now service needs more work behind it – reviews, ratings and in-depth knowledge about customers literary preferences. 

Pages and Pages store also sells ebooks and even ereaders, but electronic titles currently accounts for just 10% of all book sales in the market today. 

The book store’s new digital stock is “going well but we’d like it to do better,” Page said.

There are no official figures for ebook sales in Oz (Apple, Amazon and Co do not release figures) but PWC estimates the market was worth $18m in 2011, ($12m consumer titles + $6m education), while the total book market was worth $1.8bn, so ebook value is still quite small.

However, 2012 saw a rapid increase in ebook market soaring to $36m in 2012, according to PwC estimates, who is to release up to date figures later this year.