Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Price Wars, or:What the he double hockey sticks is going on?

I could very easily list a dozen or so links about the battle between Walmart, Amazon, Target and Sears(really?) to see who can sell new books the cheapest. And much of what has been written is of the snarky or poking fun variety. But the real issues, and there are many, are cause for great concern. Certainly for bookstores and publishers and everyone else involved in the wild world of books. But also for retailers in general and also, I believe, for consumers as well.

I won't get into all the nuts and bolts of this. Go here for some good analysis and a link to the New York Times for the news portions of the story.

I would say the only title on the list that poses major problems is the Barbara Kingsolver--which is probably true for about 90% of booksellers. Here's an interesting twist: we are selling books for a Stephen King event in November and could have saved about $2,500.00 if we had ordered our books through one of these websites rather than the publisher directly. That is crazy. Krazee.

One of the biggest problems in all of this is that it devalues books as a sellable commodity. I'm as free market as the next guy, but that isn't exactly what we're dealing with here. It puts even chain stores in a tight spot. Since they're known for discounting I'm certain customers will be asking if they too can go cheaper. And they really can't afford to. Or is it they can't afford not to? I'm not sure. If nothing else this points out that the book industry is sick. No healthy industry would allow a couple middle men to step in and buy massive amounts of product to re-sell at massive loss. How massive? Well, the King book is going to retail for $35(although that suggested price is starting to mean less and less). If the rules are being followed, 46% is the discount these re-sellers should be getting. That means they, and we, get the book for $18.90 and selling it at $8.99 means a loss of $9.91 on each and every one they sell.

It will be very interesting to see how all of this plays out. It's possible that very soon, if not already, the inmates will be running the asylum of the book world.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A very mixed-bag

Well, we're almost two weeks into the coldest October in 60 years in Minnesota. And it is currently snowing some very fat and wet flakes onto us. It is pretty--but a little early for my tastes. And, after a very exciting last month of baseball, the evil and uber-talented Yankees have sent us fishing. Yet, there are some exciting things to discuss--like outdoor baseball next year. And two great in-store events this week.

Tomorrow night at 7 p.m. John Minczeski will be here reading from his new book of poems, "A Letter to Serafin" and on Friday 10/16/09 David Rhodes will be here at 7 p.m. to read from his newly released "The Easter House." Both men are great writers and great representatives of what the Midwest can bring to literature.

Plus, if that isn't enough for you, we have stacks of copies of the fourth Jeff Kinney YA book "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" The kids can't get enough of this stuff.

Finally, the two new remainder shipments are here with lots of fantastic stuff in the $4.99-$8.99 range. Come get it before it's gone.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Where to put all the books?

I'm well aware that people face this question on a regular basis. Build more bookcases? Sell them or give them away? Move to a bigger house? All answers with different problems.

As a bookstore, especially a small one, we need to deal this kind of problem on a regular basis. There is some give and take depending on the season, of course. More books from September-December and then less from January-April/May. The summer season has its own little rhythm.

This fall is an especially wild season of books, as I've mentioned before. We've had to get a little more creative with the positioning of books than normal. Normally, we move books around pretty frequently on the front tables. But this season, this season, is different from any other. There are simply too many books for us to display. So, what he have decided to do, is create another table for new releases. Normally, we have two tables of hardcover new releases--both non-fiction and fiction and one table of new paperback releases.

Now we have four full tables of new books. We also have two shipments of some cheaper books coming in. These books are quality stuff that is either from Europe or books that have come out in paperback.

As I'm speaking, or typing, the MN Twins are tied in the late innings. Go Twins!