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Jamalon: Shaping the Arab Book Industry
 
 
There are times when it is difficult to find a particular book you want, especially if you want that book to be in your own native language. This is where Jamalon comes in. Jamalon.com currently offers 9 million Arabic and English books to 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

But how does Jamalon differ from Amazon.com, the powerhouse of book retail? In an interview with Ala' Alsallal, founder and CEO of Jamalon, Ala' explains that Jamalon differs in three main ways. Firstly, sites like Amazon do not have a diverse selection of Arabic books. He says that about 5000 publishers in the Arab region do not have access to Amazon or face difficulty having their books reach their consumers. Furthermore, Jamalon uses a local interface in each country in the Middle East, with prices displayed in the local currencies. Finally, to solve the problem of low credit card adoption in the region, Jamalon offers customers Cash on Delivery (COD) options through Aramex. Alsallal says that about 85% of Jamalon customers use the COD service.

Besides the Cash on Delivery service, Aramex has also assisted Jamalon by forwarding shipments from New York and London to customers in the Arab region. In addition, Jamalon systems are integrated with Aramex's backend systems through various APIs, which helps the transfer of shipment information easily to Aramex, allowing customers to track their shipments on the go.
 
The Logistics of Book Delivery
Currently, using the dropship method, Jamalon forwards a customer's order on the site to the publisher who would then ship the goods directly to the customer. Consumer can benefit from cost reductions as drop shipping eliminates some duplication of effort, since only one warehouse will pick, pack and ship the product. Although this approach can decrease total inventory management and shipping costs, the lack of total control over the back-end inventory means that sometimes books ordered on the site will not be available; and Jamalon has to apologize to customers after an order went through because of the lack of availability. That is why the company is currently working on a new warehouse solution through Aramex and InfoFort to have better control of available inventory and supply even more books for the region.

The Ups and Downs of Online Book Retail, and the Future
Any great business is not without its setbacks. "People do not read because books are not available, prices are not right and there are not a lot of quality books in Arabic," says Ala' Alsallal. He points out that according to the Publisher's Association, only a mere 15,000 Arabic books are produced a year as opposed to the yearly production of 450,000 English books. Jamalon has also faced numerous problems with censorship as there has been some difficulty in moving some books through borders.

However, Jamalon is doing quite well regardless of the circumstances. Currently, Jamalon is one of the largest e-commerce websites in the region, and most of the site's sales come from the Gulf. In particular, Saudi Arabia contributes to 50% of book sales compared to Jordan's 10%. Alsallal mentions that it is actually through Aramex's offices in Saudi that Jamalon was able to break into the Saudi market. In the long term, Jamalon is looking to increase its market share in the industry with a focus on publishing-on-demand.

As parts of its geographical expansion plans, Jamalon plans to enter the Egyptian market in 2013, a nation of 80 million and an established publishing history and culture. Eventually, Ala' also hopes to shift gears to the growing e-book industry. Physical books or e-books, with the help of Aramex, Jamalon looks to keep delivering more and more books to readers across the region.

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