David and Goliath Battle Heats Up in Online Bookselling

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An Independent Bookseller enters the fray, opting for a new approach in the battle for the online booklover's heart. Copperfield's Books--with eight stores in Northern California--has recreated the local independent bookstore experience online and is banking on booklovers finding value when they go to buy books online.

It's like we've opened another Copperfield's Books store, but it's a virtual independent bookstore whose doors are open 24 hours a day.

It's David versus Goliath on the online bookselling front. How has one independent local bookstore gone to bat against the online giants? Copperfield's Books, a Northern California company with eight stores, has taken the best of the local independent bookstore and put it on the line and online in its newly renovated website in a daring bid for the heart of the book-loving public.

"We know book-lovers appreciate the added value an independent bookseller offers. With our website, we celebrate all that an independent bookstore is. It's like we've opened another Copperfield's Books store, but it's a virtual independent bookstore whose doors are open 24 hours a day to anyone who surfs the internet and loves books," said CEO Tom Montan.

At copperfieldsbooks.com, visitors experience a great virtual place to "hang out"--one of the defining features of Copperfield's brick and mortar stores. Many of customers' favorite store features are available on the website....staff picks, author events, community showcases (mimicking the in-store community billboard) and book reviews by local kids. Copperfield's Books regularly partners with publishers and nonprofit organizations.

Online, this tradition lives on. In partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association this fall, Copperfield's Books ran an online promotion with Random House featuring a trip to Yosemite National Park as a prize to promote America's Best Idea by Ken Burns. Working with Quirk Books, Copperfield's Books invited site visitors to write a piece for the Classics and Monsters Writing Contest using the spoof, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, as a model.

In photos submitted by visitors and displayed on the homepage, heads disappear seamlessly behind books as part of the seasonal Get Your Head in a Book program. With a click, listeners can listen in on Copperfield's Books radio shows describing hot books, just as knowledgeable clerks in the stores point out what's new. Innovative book assortments, giveaways, autographed copies, and thousands of books choices also get booklovers' hearts pumping in the way walking into a Copperfield's Books' store might.

Extensive use of video catapults the website into a dynamic venue much like the stores. Delivering on Copperfield's Books bookstore credo "Where Authors and Readers Meet," the site features author videos shot from the more than 150 annual author events that happen in the Copperfield's Books stores. The site utilizes YouTube author videos as well. Copperfield's also features a video countdown of its top ten hardcover bestsellers that changes weekly. Staff Picks and Teacher Recommended Lists are shot for the camera also.

Copperfield's Books has integrated the web with its stores by introducing computer kiosks featuring the site. The kiosks have a fun Steampunk design evoking the Victorian era from which Copperfield's Books name is derived and are named Oliver (as in Twist). The kiosks allow in-store customers access to the site so they too can browse and reserve books, buy gift cards, or check store availability of both new and used and rare titles, check the gift registry as well as enjoy the other independent bookstore features. After three months of website operation and just a month of kiosk installation, Copperfield's Books reports both a dramatic increase in online unique visitors as well as increased sales in its stores.


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Vicki DeArmon
Copperfield's Books
707-823-8991 ext. 221
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