Virgin is to set up an online book store as part of its pounds 50m
investment in internet services announced last week.
The move is designed to raise the profile of Virgin Publishing, a
subsidiary of the Virgin Media Group, which publishes around 200 titles
Created by new-media agency Omniscience, the Virgin Books site will go
online in April. Virgin Publishing’s sales and logistics manager Michael
Ridgway says it aims to attract visitors through their special interests
rather than a general interest in books.
The site will be divided into five content areas - sport, music, people,
erotica and entertainment - and Virgin has registered with search
engines to create links from relevant areas of the internet to its own
For example, if someone is searching for information on the World Cup,
they might find a link to the Virgin Books sports site.
Virgin believes the fact that it is both a book publisher and retailer
gives it an advantage over specific publishers’ sites or online
booksellers such as Amazon.com.
Visitors to Virgin Book’s site, located at www.virgin-books.com, can
have online chats with authors, read reviews and submit their own
opinions. There will be prizes and competitions, and opportunities to
’add’ chapters to books interactively.
Richard Branson last week confirmed Virgin’s plans to offer free
internet access via its Virgin Net ISP and invest heavily in the medium.
He said Virgin Net would help to link the various parts of group through
cross-promotion and that virtually every part of the Virgin group would
have some form of e-commerce facility by the end of 1999.
Virgin Net subscribers may be offered deals on Virgin Atlantic
Other plans include a Virgin Net loyalty card, which will give users
discounts on Virgin products and services.
Online marketing for the books site will include banner ads. Virgin will
also use the site proactively as a direct marketing tool for forthcoming
releases. It will build up a database of information on visitors’
interests and e-mail news of relevant book launches. Customers will also
be able to build up loyalty points, in what Virgin claims is the first
loyalty scheme offered by a book publisher.
The book sales site will not, however, be promoted on Virgin Net, which
has existing relationships with US publishers Amazon.com and Barnes &