Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lindsay, I love you...


A few posts ago I cracked open that old chestnut (chestnuts are traditional fare for Christmas) about discounting books. My purpose was to keep this issue in the public arena, and to ask if we can actually trust best seller lists as they are so obviously manipulated. And so to my own opinions

1) I genuinely believe that intelligent, well considered price promoting can be a boon to the individual store.
2) I equally believe that while nationwide discounting that can help some titles in some geographical areas, it can be equally detrimental to the profit that can be made from those same titles in other areas. (Yes, I have good examples)
3) We should definitely keep debating this issue. To simply accept that "Price promoting is the way it is" is a cop out. As a race we have had taxation - in one form or another - for thousands of years, and yet we still discuss that, so why shouldn't we question the validity of one marketing tool?
4) Price promoting in the chain bookstores - lets ignore the supermarkets for a moment - has reached an epidemic. There is no other reaction to success (or failure) than to quickly reduce the price of the title in question. (As a manager I once had two emails on the same day. Email one; Such-and-such is not performing well, put it in the 3for2 and move it to the front of store. Email two; Such-and-such is performing really well, put it in the 3for2 and move it to the front of store.)
5) Booksellers are - on the whole - the most persuasive sales-people in the world. IF they are allowed to sell the books they love. And therefore do not need this kind of 'help'.

I know that everybody won't agree with me, and quite frankly I'm glad about that. Simon and I do not agree on everything. 'Yes we do'. If everybody agreed with me the world would be a very dull place...... but the buses would be some really weird colours, and flowers wo..... sorry, drifted off for a moment....

Anyway, about that headline. "Lindsay, I love you..."

I have copied the comment from the whole discounting debate that I really love (and agree with) the most, and stuck it here. Read it. Read it NOW.

Lindsay said...
I think what you've said about having a well chosen selection of books, customer service etc is key. The big chain stores are so boring!!! I love to read, and will pretty much read anything, but I find myself walking into the Waterstones and Borders of this world and just feeling so BORED with the endless, continual cycle of 3 for 2s. I know that discounting has introduced books to a wider market, and anything that has encouraged more people to read is a good thing, but where is that excitement that I used to get when I walked into a book store? The anticipation of picking up something amazing, so fantastic that I want to stay up all night reading it? Booksellers who would recommend fantastic things, rather than the stuff the publishers have shelled out most of their marketing budgets to get in the Christmas catalogue? It's not there any more and the constant discounting is killing it! I really hope that publishing and book selling will start to turn around and go the way that consumers are starting to demand from food retailing: quality, provenance, joyous, local, independent produce and shops which they will pay a fair price for. I think if the average reader realised just what the chains and supermarkets are doing to this once creative industry they might start to value books more and pay a decent price for them, the same way we have started to wise up to what they have done to farmers and food producers.That's my late night rant over! And I'll definitely be popping over from Hackney when you open!

Tim (again)

Lindsay, I love you.


Lindsay, I think you're lovely too.


Trollop said...

Michael from Compass here

I see that your hit counter has been disconnected because you've violated a code!

Simon, this isn't the sort of behaviour I expect from you and it's certainly not a very auspicious start to a career as a an independent bookeller.

I've only met Tim once so I don't really know him but I hope he's not influencing you to go round violating codes all over the place.

Love and best wishes

Trollop said...

Oh, I see that your hit counter has been unviolated.


Lindsay said...

Awww, shucks, I'm blushing now!