The Role of e-Commerce in the Book Publishing Industry

By Sumona

September 30, 2022


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Despite the advancements made by modern technology, books remain one of the most frequently sold items.

In fact, digital tools have now made it more convenient for book lovers to buy any book or publication of their choice whenever they feel like it. And this is all largely possible due to the rapid growth of the e-commerce sector.

Electronic commerce or e-commerce is the practice of trading services and products online via the internet and the financial transactions that facilitate them. This trading mode began when someone sold a CD on a website they created.

From here, the e-commerce sector rapidly grew and evolved to expand its services across all industries in today’s market. One such example is that of the publishing industry.

For many people, the publishing industry and the idea of e-commerce may seem like two contradictory terms. This is because while the former represents a cultural or traditional trade sector, the latter entirely conforms to a digitalized era.

However, the role of e-commerce in the publishing industry is vastly significant. Here, we try to cover some of its major implications—including its benefits, drawbacks, and outlook.


Some of the more significant benefits e-commerce has on the publishing industry include:

1. Improves efficiency

E-commerce has benefited several areas of the business sector by streamlining workflows and improving the efficiency of routine operations. For example, companies must update all business activities to ensure smooth running.

But with a physical marketplace, you must manually enter every transaction and purchase made at the store.

However, an e-commerce setup automatically feeds all the information directly to your system’s hardware. So, whether a customer places a book printing order or asks you to design a cover, you’ll have all the order details saved online. Later, when revising your inventory or while auditing, you can refer back to these specifics to see if you missed something or not.

2. Facilitates selling in stocks

Sometimes when customers go to buy a book, they return empty-handed and disappointed because the one they wanted to buy wasn’t available. Bookstores have limited spaces or shelves on which sellers can display their collections.

An online system, however, mitigates this concern as a lack of space is no problem in an e-commerce layout. And even if there is a shortage of certain products, customers can know beforehand and avoid a wasted trip.

Additionally, they can ask the online publishing company to reserve a copy of that particular book when it gets restocked.

3. Caters to a broader audience

For most publishers in the industry, one of the most obvious and leading ways to generate revenue is through subscriptions and advertisements. Fortunately, digital ads and other online marketing tools offer various opportunities to accomplish this. By using electronic media, publishing companies can market their services to a broader range of audiences.

Since e-commerce frameworks conduct all their businesses through the internet, marketing strategies and promotion campaigns are no different. Whether it’s through emails, social media, lead enrichment, or search engine optimization tools—in the end, it’s the publishing industry that reaps the benefits.


Although it’s impossible to overstate the importance of e-commerce in the publishing industry, it also comes with a few drawbacks.

1. Security concerns

In e-commerce, all commercial transactions of customers’ purchases get paid through electronic means like digital wallets, credit or debit cards, and online banking. But when clients use a publishing company’s website to order books, they sometimes get wary of giving out personal information.

Sensitive data such as a home address, phone number, and credit card information are almost always vital to place an order. This increases the risk of fraud or cyberattacks where clients’ data can get leaked or misused elsewhere.

Most e-commerce businesses, however, invest greatly in installing security systems and encrypted software that mitigate and prevent security breaches.

2. Lack of in-store experience

For most book lovers, visiting a bookstore, browsing through various collections, and thumbing pages are all part of the experience. Other services like talking to the store’s owner can also significantly contribute to a customer’s buying decision. But an e-commerce business doesn’t offer any of this.

For example, if someone’s looking for a book recommendation in an online store, they won’t have any opportunities to discuss their preferences. Purchasing a book doesn’t seem as exciting without these things, making it less likely for customers to revisit it.

3. Costs of an online store

If you compare the overhead costs of an online store to a physical one, you’ll probably be able to save more with a virtual setup. But while the overall expense might not be as high, the costs of creating and maintaining a running website can quickly add up.

Besides this, any digital marketing tools or strategies you might use will also add to your expenses, so you must be aware of it beforehand.

Future implications

In just the past few years, e-commerce businesses have progressed by leaps and bounds and are at the forefront of innovation. A global forecast report showed that e-commerce sales would likely reach $5.5 trillion worldwide by 2022. And with more digital tools and software developed each day, this number will only grow from here on out.

As a thriving business sector, it’s an exciting time to work in e-commerce, especially in the publishing industry. Growth opportunities are vast, with so much potential left unexplored.

Here’s how you can expect future trends in the industry to come by:

  • A shift in the shopping paradigm

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most essentials were bought and paid for online. However, once the lockdown restrictions eased, many people stuck to online shopping because it offered them ease and convenience. Besides necessities, customers also want their print media or other forms of entertainment online. And to cater to this growing demand, publishing industries must quickly get on board with e-commerce setups.

  • Automate shipping

With so many customers shifting to online platforms, you must be able to provide quick shipment and deliveries or risk losing clients. For example, when a new book gets launched, many people want to buy it simultaneously. Therefore, systems that automate their shipping are a leading need for the future of e-commerce.

  • Increasing payment methods

The development of more electronic and digital payment gateways is underway to facilitate customers. These are not only going to improve transactions but also make tracking financial statements easier and more secure.


Some experts say that with the advent of e-commerce, it’s as if the printing press got re-invented. An industry on the verge of fading away has gained momentum again and is likely to surge ahead as new technologies and systems come to light.




Sumona is a persona, having a colossal interest in writing blogs and other jones of calligraphies. In terms of her professional commitments, she carries out sharing sentient blogs by maintaining top-to-toe SEO aspects. Follow her contributions in RSLOnline and SocialMediaMagazine

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