Sunday, April 19, 2009

We sell not book, but books.

What I mean by "We sell not book, but books," is that most of our sales seem to come from people who are readers of books, not people who come in looking for one book title. (If they ask for a particular book, and then stick around to browse, that's different.)

I would've thought going into it, that many of our sales would come from these 'looking for...' type customers.

But that's before I realized the full extent of the number of books in the world.


Let me explain.

Last night I went to Linda's store to help her file books. There was a stack of books on the floor, all of them good books, all of them books that conceivably sold in Barnes and Nobles just a year or two ago.

And yet, for the majority, I'd never seen them before.

Night after night, this happens.

There are entire subjects and authors and especially titles that hardly ever come in the door.

Don't get me wrong. There are many titles and authors that come in nearly everyday. But once you get even the slightest bit off the worn path, it seems like perfectly good books are fairly rare.

Not rare as a total; that is, we well get rare and wonderful books everyday, but not a particular book maybe for a long, long time.

It get's so that if someone requests a book that is slightly off the beaten track, we may or may not have it, but it is mostly incidental to the actual sales level of the store.

I think this may be getting confusing. Let me see if I can narrow it down.

1.) We sell more often to those people who want good books, but not so much to people who want one particular book.

2.) Any particular unusual book is fairly rare.

3.) Particular unusual books as a type aren't rare at all.

Does that make any sense?

The person who comes in, and looks around, and even if they have a particular author or title in mind is still open to the possibilities, who wants to find the kinds of books he or she likes -- well, THAT person is our customer.

In hindsight, this makes sense, since that is the type of customer I am, and I read a bunch of books.

It's also the type of customer I get downtown. I have good books, but I don't have enough space to be a library kind of store. This is why my strategy of carrying 'great' or 'classic' or 'cult' or 'favorite' books works so well in my store.

I suspect my new book strategy would work in my wife's store, too, but she has determined that it is best to stick to one thing -- used books -- and do a good job.

With the results she's achieved, it's hard to argue the point.

No comments: