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Kingston Bookshop partners with pharmacy, adds bargain centre

Published:Tuesday | January 31, 2017 | 12:00 AMTameka Gordon
In this January 2013 photo, general manager of Kingston Bookshop, Steadman Fuller, assists student Ramone Pugh select school supplies at the bookshop’s outlet at lower King Street, Kingston.

Kingston Bookshop has expanded to Cross Roads in Kingston under partnership with Everybody's Pharmacy to distribute some of its products.

The bookshop also added a discount centre at its upper King Street location to push the sale of books that have been held in stock for a while.

In the last few years, as the consumption of the written word migrates to electronic platforms and the Internet, Kingston Bookshop Limited has been exploring ways to diversify its offerings amid a decline in its core business of textbook sales. Back in 2015, the company added an electronics unit, called RightClick, through which it sells gadgets.

Everybody's Pharmacy has handled some sales for the bookshop in the past "but now its exclusive," sales and marketing manager Damani Johnson told Gleaner Business. He said a section of the pharmacy is now branded as a Kingston Bookshop outlet under the partnership.

"They carry all our stationery line," said Johnson. "We have never had a presence in Cross Roads so it's another area of growth that we have added."


The company will review the partnership after a year to see how it can be further expanded, he said.

Since December, Kingston Bookshop has been pushing sales through its KB Bargain Centre.

"We added it primarily because we had a lot of books, from basic to tertiary, that have been in our system for some time," Johnson said.

The medical, law and high school textbooks, among others, "are heavily discounted, well over 75 per cent," he said. "Some of them might be old editions but the material is still relevant. You find that universities and a number of other institutions have bought them to put in their libraries."

Meanwhile, RightClick has seen a 25 per cent growth in revenues with "steady increase in awareness," since its launch, the sales and marketing manager said. The electronic gadgets sold includes mobile phones, tablets and selfie sticks.

Through that unit, Kingston Bookshop has also found a way to leverage business out of a market segment that is an emerging rival.

"A lot of the companies that we have exclusives for have developed their own platforms for e-books so we sell the access codes for e-books that customers load on to their devices," Johnson said.

He added, however, that there has been a lull in the demand for e-books recently.

"We know it's still a threat to our core business, and we will be prepared for when e-books become fully operational in the market," he said.

Jamaica's only e-book company, BookFusion Limited, recently digitised 70 texts under the Ministry of Education's Doctor Bird: Blue Mahoe reading series for primary schools and the ministry's Early Childhood and Literacy 1-2-3 series. A wider roll-out of digitised texts for high schools is also being considered.

While noting the shifts in the industry, Johnson said Kingston Bookshop will find a way to adapt and stay afloat.