Of book purchases and e-commerce

The Internet impacts the book industry and readers as a whole. It affects the business of bricks-and-mortar book retailers and changes the purchase habits of readers.

Bookstore sales slowly decline due to the growing popularity of e-books, which captured $3.2 billion of the bookselling market in 2011. Online retailer Amazon benefitted much from this development as it controlled 22.6% of the market that year. During the same year in UK, almost 56% of the 2,000 consumers surveyed by Toluna browsed the Internet for their book purchases.

And in 2012, for the first time, online retailers sold more books that physical bookstores or retailers. Bowker Market Research revealed 43.8% of books bought were sold online, compared to 31.6% for large bookstore chains, independent book stores, supermarkets, and other mass merchandisers.

While online book purchase seems convenient for readers, it remains to be seen whether the Internet does help foster a literary culture or drive more people to read more books or e-books. But one thing is for certain: Online book purchases are not possible without PayPal.

PayPal facilitates online book purchases

There is no bigger name than PayPal when it comes to paying for books purchased online. Amazon requires it. Book publishers require it when readers shop through their online bookstores. Even website creators require PayPal when making their client authors’ e-commerce websites. Both authors and readers need PayPal.

Advantages and disadvantages of PayPal

But like everything else in this world, PayPal has its share of advantages and disadvantages. How does it benefit readers/buyers and authors/retailers? In what way it is disadvantageous?

First, the advantages:

  • A PayPal account comes handy for people who do not own a credit card. People can connect their PayPal accounts directly to their bank accounts, thus being able to buy stuff, including books, online.
  • Using PayPal increases financial security for account holders. An account holder does not reveal their bank account or credit card numbers to sellers. They only give out their PayPal account number.
  • PayPal account holders can also use their account to purchase items, including books, of different currencies. This makes international purchase easier and hassle-free.
  • For sellers, PayPal erases the waiting period that sellers have to endure as their checks clear the bank.
  • PayPal also erases or else lowers the fees that credit card processors charge sellers for credit card payments.

And then, the disadvantages:

  • PayPal may limit the amount of money account holders can send or withdraw form their account if PayPal believes they violate the terms of service.
  • PayPal may also lock or limit accounts for general suspicious activity.
  • Account holders cannot immediately access the funds transferred from PayPal to their bank accounts. It will take a while for PayPal to release the funds.
  • PayPal lacks excellent customer service and has a long, frustrating verification process and extra strict policies and guidelines.

As the Internet makes it easy for readers to access hard-to-find titles and for sellers to sell to hard-to-read audience, Paypal facilitates fast and hassle-free online book purchases. Even with its disadvantages, PayPal remains to be the most preferred online payment system – until someone comes up with a better alternative.