Spanish bookstores compete with Amazon

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MADRID – The Ministry of Culture has agreed with Spanish national postal company Correos to deliver books to customers’ homes at reduced shipping costs. The agreement strengthens the competitive position of 3,500 Spanish bookstores.

Culture Minister Jose Manuel Rodríguez Uribes and Correos President Juan Manuel Serrano presented their agreement at the Madrid National Library. As a result, books can now be delivered to your home within 24 hours at a competitive rate of €3.09. This includes a shipping code for tracking the package. The normal shipping rate for this service is €4.40.

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The book industry had previously raised the delivery service and rates for their online sales in order to remain competitive with e-commerce giants like Amazon. Minister Rodríguez Uribes indicated that the recently concluded agreement will stimulate literature in Spain. “The pandemic has shown us the future of culture, and in particular that of literature is based on digital services”. Customers who purchase online from Spanish bookstores now receive the premium service from Correos at a lower rate.

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Savings of 200 per month

Bookseller and spokesman for the Spanish Book Trade Association (CEGAL) Álvaro Manso said he approved of the reduced shipping rates. The agreement between the government and Correos is a favourable development, particularly for customers on both island groups and for booksellers outwith the larger cities. According to Manso, the reduced shipping rate could save booksellers of almost 200€ per month.

Online sales are continue to increase

According to Afredo Quirós of the Cervantes bookstore, the pandemic has accelerated digital book sales. The current situation means it is important to compete with large internet companies. Shops mainly serve as a showcase to advertise books, but consumers actually make purchases with their phones. Previously only 5% of sales were conducted digitally.  This has now increased to 15%.

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Verónica García of the Spanish Federation of Book Distributors (FANDE) explains that Amazon incorporates competitive shipping rates into the price of the book itself. This because free shipping would exceed the maximum allowable discount of 5%.  Spanish booksellers cannot afford this, and as a result makes them dependent on government measures to facilitate their competitive position.

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