Over the past decade, Indonesia has witnessed a rapid progress in its book publishing industry, not only in terms of the number of books published but also the number of new bookstores.
Many new bookshops have sprung up in addition to the ubiquitous Gramedia and Gunung Agung, two institutional players in the nation’s book business. These new bookshops can be found not only in imposing shopping centers downtown, but also hidden away in backstreets.
The emergence of these new players has made competition in the book business much tougher. With a novel concept of turning the bookstore into a recreational place, new players have been successful in luring bookworms into their outlets.
In the past, it would never have occurred to many Indonesians that a bookshop could be combined with a restaurant or cafe. When you get tired from all that book browsing, you can drop into the restaurant or cafe to eat and drink while chatting with friends and enjoying the ambience. If you are a member of the bookshop’s club, you may also browse the Internet for as long as you wish.
One book shops that has developed this concept is QB World Bookstore. With a network consisting six outlets, QB has been deliberately designed to provide comfort to their customers. Aside from a cafe, QB also provides Internet facilities.
“We want to be different. Here you can not only buy books but also get involved in other activities such as book discussions, film screenings, art exhibitions, and photo exhibitions,” said Richard Oh, owner and manager of QB network.
Richard would like to establish an emotional relationship between buyers and QB that is not confined to a business transaction. Therefore, QB adopts a membership system. A customer buying Rp 1 million worth of goods is entitled to a QB membership card.
Another advantage for QB members is that he or she receives weekly reports about new books and upcoming QB events and activities. If you have a QB membership card, you can use it as a discount card at 30 places around town including restaurants, cafes, hotels and other places. The annual membership fee is a mere Rp 50,000 (about US$5).
Winfred Hutabarat established a similar network of bookshops under the name of Aksara. Aksara also accommodates non-bookworms and that’s why you can also find non-book products like audio CDs, design objects, gift items and souvenirs in their bookstore. With its browser-friendly concept, you are free to read without any obligation to buy anything.
Besides Aksara, there are several other bookshops that have adopted a similar marketing approach, such as Kinokuniya, Maruzen and Times. This new concept has certainly worried the old players. Friendly service and the comfort that new players offer to customers may easily encourage book lovers to frequent these bookshops rather than the old ones.