While many publishers have this past decade continued to rely heavily on bricks & mortar bookstores as a buttress against Amazon’s dominance of the online print and ebook market, UK publisher Verso has long since put its efforts into building a D2C (direct to customer) relationship with its audience.
And that has paid off handsomely, not just with a 25% increase on global sales year on year, but a massive 300% increase in its e-commerce sales in 2020’s first quarter while other publishers were hit by lockdown closing bricks & mortar stores, distributors like Bertrams, Gardners variously operational or closed, and Amazon prioritising non-book goods distribution.
Verso MD Rowan Wilson, in conversation with the UK trade journal The Bookseller, explained:
Verso has spent years developing its D2C e-commerce business to its enthusiastic and supportive readers, so that last year it was already responsible for one third of our sales—it’s been key for our long backlist as well as our frontlist. As soon as the situation with the lockdown and the book trade developed, our marketing and publicity teams devoted all their energies to our D2C sales and we have seen a life saving growth of 300% in our e-commerce sales, and a consequent 25% growth on our sales from last year.