March 20, 2013, 4:25 PM

Hudson Booksellers opens up e-book sales

The bookstore’s first e-retail site sells Kobo e-readers and has a strong focus on e-books.

Lead Photo

The book e-retailing industry has a new character and it’s a particularly electronic one. Hudson Booksellers, the book stores that dot airports around the country and entertain travelers as they wait for their flights, has launched its first e-commerce site, and it focuses strongly on e-books.

The site, HudsonBooksellers.com, is built on the American Bookseller Association’s IndieCommerce platform. The platform is the result of a deal last year between the association and e-reader maker Kobo Inc. Book sellers that are members of the association, such as Hudson, can host an e-commerce site on the IndieCommerce platform that sells print books, Kobo e-book readers and Google e-books. Google e-books work with such e-readers and tablets as the Kobo, Barnes & Noble Inc.’s Nook, Apple Inc.’s iPad, and tablets and e-readers using Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating system. However, they do not work with Amazon.com’s Kindle.

IndieCommerce costs $175 a month, according to the American Bookseller Association’s web site. That fee includes such features as web hosting, a local store and online inventory search engine, a shopping cart, drop-ship fulfillment options, search-engine optimized URLs, and technical support. Membership to the association costs a one-time fee of $200 plus annual dues ranging from $299 to $10,000, depending on a store’s total book sales, including online sales.

“We can now directly communicate with our customers even when they are not in our stores,” says Sarah Hinckley, vice president of book buying and promotions for Hudson Booksellers. “In addition to paper books, we can offer e-books–which are of huge importance to the traveling public—flash sales, pre-orders, bulk orders, and other promotions that were not possible without a web site. Hudson’s showroom gap has expanded exponentially through the explosion of e-books.  Finally, last year we decided we just had to choose one approach and go for it. So, we hired staff to start working with IndieCommerce to build the site.”

The site includes personal reviews from Hudson staff, and an interactive "Ask a Bookseller" feature that enables visitors to register on the site and post a question to be answered by a Hudson employee.  The site also will be continually updated with news and information about books that are popular with travelers, book signing events and special offers, Hudson says.

Other features include a “Meet our booksellers” section with photos and bios of booksellers and its own Hudson Book Club that features a monthly book selection, discussion questions and links to social media site Goodreads where readers can chat about books. A photo gallery features globe-trotting readers visiting Hudson Bookseller locations and book signings at airports across North America.

“Hudson has something to offer our customers from a curatorial perspective,” Hinckley says. “Not only do we have over twenty years of sales history to predict which categories and titles our customers might be interested in, we’ve also built our business around a strong culture of individual bookseller recommendations, whether through signed selections in all of our newsstands, or local bookseller relationships with frequent flyers. We’re hoping to translate this online, and you can see it reflected in the type of store that we’ve built, and will continue to develop.”

Hudson Group is a subsidiary of Switzerland–based international travel retailer Dufry AG. The company operates approximately 700 Hudson News, Hudson Booksellers, cafes, specialty retail and duty-free shops in 70 airports and transportation terminals in the U.S. and Canada, and additional newsstands in 12 more countries.

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