Buyers unconvinced by Book Week discounts

A day before this year's Book Week festivities were set to begin, a survey by Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry researchers indicated on Tuesday that more than half of participants in Book Week events last year were not convinced that the discounts offered differ from discounts available throughout the year. "The creativeness and wide variety of discounts, as well as combinations [of different kinds of discounts], succeed in confusing buyers during Book Week, to the extent that more than 20 percent of them claimed not to know how to calculate the level of the discount, and another large segment claimed not to understand how [the discounts] are calculated," the researchers concluded. The team found that while at least 15 different kinds of discounts were offered last year, the most common form of discount - received by more than half of buyers at the event - was simply to offer a flat percentage discount on the book's value. Discounts in 2005 averaged 27.1% of the books' pre-Book Week price tag, bringing the price of the average book down to NIS 65 from NIS 89. The total discount on books sold during the festivities was valued at NIS 67.5m., shared by 903,600 visitors over the age of 14 participating in the events. Participants in Book Week spent a total of NIS 165m. on books - or about NIS 267 per household - accounting for more than one-quarter of their spending on books for the year. The visitors bought 2.5 million books during Book Week, accounting for 14.5% of books sold to Israeli households during the year. Some 61.9% of books sold during the festival were for adults, 37.4% were children's books and 3.6% were tour books. By population group, 22.2% of veteran Jewish Israelis participated in Book Week events, against 9.3% of immigrants and 3.1% of Arab Israelis. More than 19% of books sold at the Book Week events were in languages other than Hebrew, primarily English and Russian. Among holders of academic degrees of all three groups together, participation in the festivities reached 34.7%, while 19.9% of those who reached matriculation, 12.1% of those who did not finish high school, and 27% of those with post-high school certificates attended to Book Week events. Book Week events were most popular in Jerusalem, attracting fully 31% of the city's population (not including residents of east Jerusalem). Exactly 30% of the population of Haifa participated in the festival, 23.9% of inhabitants of Tel Aviv and the center of Israel, 18% of residents of the North (outside of Haifa), and 15.7% of the population of Southern Israel. Teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 accounted for less than 5.5% of participants in the festival, the remainder being adults 18 and over (whose children accompanying them were not counted in the survey). More than 44% of participants were older than 45 years of age, while 27.5% were between the ages of 25 and 34; more than 21% were aged 35 to 44; and 7.2% were 18 to 24 years old. In total, Israeli households spent NIS 2.1 billion on books and periodicals in 2005. Book buyers are also enjoying a 5% drop in book prices over the past three years, as increased competition in the market pays off, the researchers said. Some 6,840 books were published in Israel in 2005, according to the National and University Library. Of all titles - including periodicals and discs - 85% were in Hebrew, 2.3% in English, and the remainder in other languages, primarily Russian, Arabic and French.