Thursday, October 22, 2009

Brilliant, Mortimer!

Independent - and sticking to it
How small bookstores deal with corporate competition
By David Holley / The Bulletin
Published: October 22. 2009 4:00AM PST


The Money-quote from today's article:

"Duncan McGeary, owner of Pegasus Books in downtown Bend, said the price cutting doesn’t bother him because he caters to a different set of readers. He sells mostly used books and some new literature.

McGeary said if people asked for some of the best-sellers, he would order them. But so far, he hasn’t had to.

“I didn’t get the Dan Brown book. I didn’t have anyone ask for the Dan Brown book,” he said. “I have Alexander Dumas and Charles Dickens.”

Well, la-de-da. Don't I just sound all snooty.

"I only carry 'lit-er-a-ture...', he sniffed.

Still, there seemed to be a lot of agreement amongst the independents about the whole issue of cheap books.

We've already lost those readers at 50%; so going to 70% off won't make much more difference.

This was the genesis of my "What If" entry the other day. (I have a policy of not stepping on an article I know is coming if I've been interviewed.) (And, oh by the way, Jim, 'weak' entry or not, it got a couple of dozen comments....)

And, oh by the way, I DO carry new books -- I just don't look at the 'best-seller' lists. I wish the article hadn't given the impression that I don't do new books....


Anyway, the corporate types are creating a 'new norm,' and people will expect this kind of price-cutting from now on...

Personally, I think the corporate world is full of idiots.

"Hey, Boss! I've got an idea. Lets sell the books we're MOST likely to sell the most of this Christmas....get this....for 1/3rd less than we paid!"

"Brilliant, Mortimer! That's why we sent you to Stanford Business School!!"

"But, Sir, wouldn't that just meant the competition will match our price?"

"Shut up, Percy. I'm tired of your negative thinking. You're fired! Now then, Mortimer, who are the authors we can sell the most?"

"Easy, Boss. We'll just pick all the best-sellers, you know, the ones that account for 80% of our sales."

"The big name authors, eh? Brilliant!"

"Isn't this exciting, Boss? I can see it now -- trucks full of shiny new books, transported and cataloged and shelved and sold....every one of them for a loss. What a sight!"

"What are you grumbling about, Percy? Of course it's a one time deal. Of course people won't expect every book to be that price in the future. What did you just say? How rude! I would never stick a book there! Out of here, Percy! Never darken my doors again!"


RDC said...

Of course with electronic books I was able to purchase a set that included the works of Dumas, Dickens, Jame Fenimore Cooper, Jack London, Washington Irving, Emile Zola, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgat Allen Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry Wadsworth, Herman Melville, Jane Austen, Fyodor Dostnevsky, Charles Dickens, Elbert Hubbard, Charlotte Bronte, Jules Verne, Leo Tolstoy, Lewis Carroll, Lewis Wallace, Louisa May Alcott, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Miguel de Cervantes, Oscar Wilde, and William Makepeace Thackery for $19.95 and keep them on the Treo along with 500 other books.

A niche today, might not be a survivable niche tomorrow.

Duncan McGeary said...

I'm sort of resigned to the constant shifting of niches.

blackdog said...

"I didn’t get the Dan Brown book. I didn’t have anyone ask for the Dan Brown book,” he said. “I have Alexander Dumas and Charles Dickens.”

What, no Proust?

Duncan McGeary said...

Nope. Only Dickens and Dumas. Dickens and Dumas all the time.

What more do you need. The drama! The Adventure! The Pathos! (and Porthos and Athos and Aramis!)

Duncan McGeary said...

"Of course with electronic books I was able to purchase a set thatn included the works of Dumas, Dickens,..."

Well, unless you are going to argue that all physical books are going to disappear, which you are welcome to do, I'd still say it's more likely someone will buy a Dickens to put on the bookshelf at home than the latest Brown.

The latest Brown? Read it and dispose of it....