Booking the book buyers

Nov 01, 2006 10:30 PM  By

Maybe it’s due to the growing popularity of music downloads. Or maybe it’s because category killers such as Amazon.com and BN.com continue to gobble up market share. The fact remains: The number of available active buyers from book, music, and video catalogs has declined 5.4% during the past year.

New York-based list brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera calculates that for the second quarter of 2006, the names of 3.74 million 12-month buyers within this segment were available for rental or exchange. For the second quarter of last year, however, 3.96 million such names had been on the market.

Customers of continuity clubs such as BMG and Doubleday are not included among these names, nor are the customer files of Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble’s Website. Among the traditional catalogers that are the focus of this snapshot, Christian Book Distributors has the largest 12-month direct buyer file, at more than 1.06 million consumers. It far outnumbers the second largest book/music/video file, that of Movies Unlimited, which has fewer than 238,000 12-month buyers.

The merchant with the fourth largest file in the market segment, Acorn Direct, was also one of the segment’s biggest gainers. The mailer of British DVDs and videos, along with related gift items, grew its active buyer file nearly 35%, to just over 170,000 names. Another cataloger that enjoyed sizable growth in terms of percentages, although much less in terms of raw numbers, is Sounds True. The marketer of audio and video meditation, yoga, and healing products saw its 12-month buyer file increase 29%, to 18,000 names.

During the first half of the year, 27% of the book/music/video catalogs received by ParadyszMatera offered at least one incentive, compared with 30% of those received for all of 2005 and only 20% for 2004. Free shipping has gained in popularity: 22% of this year’s offers were for free S&H, up from 19% last year and 16% the year before. Critics’ Choice Video & DVD and two of Good Music Record Co.’s titles, YesterMusic and YesterVideo, accounted for the increase.

Only 8% of the catalogs offered discounts, down from 11% last year but up slightly from 6% in 2004. Books cataloger Bas Bleu, Heartland Music, and Movies Unlimited are among those that regularly offer discounts. Collectors’ Choice Music, a sister title of Critics’ Choice Video & DVD (both are part of the Infinity Resources stable), implemented a new discount incentive this year, offering 10%, 15%, or 25% off orders of $25, $50, or more than $75.