Friday, July 25, 2008

News Flash: Most people don't read.

So I spent a couple of hours Wednesday night at the Bookmark, filling boxes from Linda's storage room with books, and hauling them to my car.

Next morning, I laid them out on the sidewalk in front of my store, went back to the house for a table, then one more trip to Linda's store to load up on more books.

This is the first Sidewalk Sale I've participated in, in years. Back when I was a kid, the Krazy Days sales were a big event -- when downtown Bend was pretty much the only shopping center in Bend, and back when the word "SALE" hadn't been diluted to nothingness.

Then went inside Pegasus and conducted normal business. Every once in a while, someone would come in with a pile of books, and there was a fairly constant flow of people bringing in one'sees and two'sees.

Went outside three or four times and consolidated and straightened books.

Then spent another half hour at the end of the day, carrying the boxes and tables inside.

The result? Sold about 105 sale books; I'm thinking about half paperback and half hardcover.

Now these were good books, but they tended to be of a 'type'; lots of mystery hardcovers, and lots of genre paperbacks.

Still, the most noticeable thing to me is how many people just walked on by, not even glancing.

I don't think I could ever walk by piles of books without at least peeking.

About an hour into the day, I'd sold probably 20 books, and made a grand total of maybe 15 dollars. Had a guy saunter in, go over to my regular books, and spend 20.00 on two or three books at regular price. And I thought, Hmmmmm.

Here's the thing, for all that work and activity, we made a mere 30% more in books than we usually do.

More than once, I had interested buyers leave the used book section of my store when I informed them of the sale. (How could I not?)

I don't want anyone to think I'm sorry I did it. We get lots of good books traded in, and I'm glad to find them a good home. It's better that someone reads them than that they sit in storage. It's a good way to get noticed, since from what customers tell me, everyone downtown tells them "no one's selling books."

But it points out the conundrum that I've always maintained is at the heart of every promotion and or sale. That whatever extra you make is probably paid for in labor, time, space. Fine if you want to do it, but be aware of the costs.

We're going to keep this going for all four days. I'm going to snag some S.F. and children's books and non-fiction from Linda's store, all of which were under-represented. Of course, I'm expecting more activity on the weekend than from a Thursday.

Still, I'd thought to do this every Sunday, on a lesser scale, and I think maybe this has taught me that might not be very useful in terms of sales. I may still do it, just as a promotion. (Or until I'm told I can't have anything on the sidewalk. Which rule seems to be broken on a regular and haphazard basis....)

Like I said, I'm just glad to get these books in people's hands, and the selection -- which was pretty good yesterday -- should be even better today.

1 comment:

Quimby said...

I think people don't read because they can watch TV or a DVD. Reading requires effort and most importantly, time.

With a TV show or a DVD, one can get the entire story in a one or two hour chunk of time and not have to work very hard for it.

I know that I value the few times per week where I have a free hour or two to sit with a good book....and I don't even watch the tube! I'm so busy that I had to make the decision to watch some shows that I may or may not like intermixed with relentless advertising or choose the topics I want to explore via books. The problem is that I have so many books that I still need to read that I rarely go browsing for books even when there is a sale.