Bar range

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As a book wholesalers companies of intermediate book trade refers to the contractually bound to them (single) dealer book supply for its own account and in its own name. They receive from publishers an Grosso - discount , sell to booksellers to the usual bookstore discount and so achieve their trading range . The difference between the shopping discount and the bookstore discount is known as the function discount.


The name goes back to the custom of selling bookbows or books to booksellers originally only for cash.

Louis Zander founded the first bar range in Leipzig in 1852 ; especially the commission Carl Voerster put it through. The copies supplied by the publisher only in paperback and in large batches were uniformly machine-bound and resold to book retailers. Advertising materials were so-called "book trade circulars", which soon developed into extensive catalogs. This capital-intensive business led to constant concentration, which reached a climax in 1918 with the merger of the companies Volckmar-Staackmann-Koch-Cnobloch and KF Koehler.

For a long time after the Second World War, four companies were active in the German intermediate book trade: Koch, Neff and Volckmar (KNV) as market leaders, Libri and the smaller competitors Umbreit and Könemann . With the takeover of Könemann in 2012, Libri was able to expand its position.

On February 14, 2019, after unsuccessful negotiations with an investor, the KNV Group had to file for insolvency at the Stuttgart District Court.

In Switzerland, the intermediate book trade is dominated by the Swiss Book Center (SBZ).


The large bar assortments now hold almost half of all available book titles in stock and supplement their range with foreign language titles, music CDs, audio books, software, etc. The assortments are gradually being expanded to include media-related products such as sheet music and games. Lifestyle products and accessories also complement the range of bookstores. Digital products such as e-books are offered as well as print on demand titles.

The criterion for inclusion is the actual or presumed saleability of the individual title. The order quantity of a title is determined on the basis of sales quantities stored per day, week, month, year and previous years. In the case of newly published titles, trends, publishing campaigns, book reviews and existing reserved quantities (ordered, not yet deliverable, quantities noted for (subsequent) delivery after (re-) publication) etc. are taken into account.

The bar assortments have their own warehouses. Book trolley services deliver the ordered books to the bookstores in a night-hopping process . This distribution system usually supplies book retailers within 24 hours.

The German wholesalers KNV , Libri and Umbreit keep complete, electronic warehouse catalogs of their available books with information about possible delivery obstacles (registration numbers) as bibliographical aids for booksellers. Umbreit, Könemann and the Swiss Book Center mark the titles they keep by means of a signature in the directory of deliverable books (VLB). The VLB records all books currently available in Germany - reported by the publishers (subject to a charge). In addition, Umbreit and Könemann are also included in the KNV catalog. With the help of the seal it is possible for the bookseller to identify several sources of reference from a bibliographic source.

The use of the bar range is particularly worthwhile for the retailer when it comes to ordering individual copies at short notice from different publishers, especially for the procurement business (targeted orders for end customers). In addition, the bar assortment represents a kind of extended external warehouse for the trade. Bookstores of all types and sizes, including the internet book trade, use the bar assortment offer, both for customer and for warehouse orders.

With additional offers of numerous services, the bar assortments try to persuade their customers to order more frequently. These services include delivery ready to the shelf with individual information (e.g. department, product group, delivery note number and date) on labeled books.


The relationship between publishers and bar assortments is often described as tense. The publisher sees orders for the bar range as a financial loss. He has to calculate whether his own processing is not more costly and whether the bundling of orders for the bar assortments is cheaper. Another problem was that individual sales (for example, export sales) were not understandable due to the sale via the bar assortments and therefore could not be included in the publisher's internal discussion about the number of copies and (target group) marketing. The bar assortments reacted to this by providing evaluations for the publishers. The amount of the functional discount from which the bar assortments u. a. Financing their services is also discussed again and again in the industry. For many smaller publishers, the bar assortments with their catalogs and online information are sales-promoting because they offer a chance for their titles to reach the widespread book trade. Failure to list them can lead to booksellers reporting titles to their customers as not available even though the publisher is selling the works. In addition, many small, group-independent publishers find the discount policy of the bar retailers “directly threatening their existence”. The bar assortments continue to increase their number of titles, so they also tend to take titles from smaller publishers to stock (and list them in the catalogs; KNV now has 480,000 items in stock at all times).

Department packages

The newer services of the bar assortments include product group subscriptions, so-called "carefree packages". The basic idea of ​​the carefree packages is to support booksellers with product groups that the bookseller does not classify as their core competence (for example a general assortment in the area of ​​"technology", a specialist bookseller in the area of ​​"crime" or goods from the stationery area (paper, Office and stationery)). A product group package consists of a starter tub and monthly novelties. The titles are compiled from the sales figures for the bar assortments. A retailer can reorder sold titles under the same conditions. The advantages of the product group packages for booksellers are good conditions, no risk and little effort. Critics of product group subscriptions predict that bookstores will lose their profile and only offer a uniform range.

Additional ranges

Since sales in the traditional book retailing are stagnating in the core area of ​​books, the bar assortments are constantly expanding their additional assortments with goods from the areas of gift items , games , music , CDs and DVDs .

Webshop partner models

In the course of the growing online trade and the popularization of the Internet since the mid-1990s, the large bar assortments have also set up Internet platforms. The cooperating bookstores that the end customer can choose are integrated here. The assortment bookstore can determine how the ordered goods are purchased and paid for. If direct purchase is permitted, the bar assortments are delivered directly to the end customer. Since 2008, e-books have also been offered for download in this context .


For corporate customers, Libri, KNV and Umbreit offer participating bookstores e-procurement solutions with ordering and management applications .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wittman, Reinhard: History of the German book trade . Munich, 1999 2nd edition page 262
  2. BuchMarkt: [1] (February 14, 2019)
  3. ^ Rautenberg, Ursula (Ed.): Reclam's Sachlexikon des Buch. Stuttgart, 2003 page 50
  4. ABC des Zwischenbuchhandel, page 35 f.
  5. ABC des Zwischenbuchhandel, p. 35
  6. ABC des Zwischenbuchhandel, p. 36
  7. Börsenblatt Online: Chances of Coexistence (February 20, 2006)