Here a serious one for you. (I know and it's nearly Christmas as well!) I recently sent a letter to the online book trade newsletter, Sheppards, which they published in full. Here it is below:
It's been a while since I've felt moved to write in but
I was particularly struck by many snippets in this week's newsletter.
Laura Freeman's boycotting of Amazon is better
late than never. In my view the problem is not that people don't want to save
local bookshops but instead it's that feeling of it being only little old them
and what difference can they possibly make by themselves?!
A bit like not bothering to cast your vote in the
general election and then wondering why the same party gets in again! As Laura
rightly points out her vote does matter and by refusing to buy from Amazon she
is hopefully at the forefront of a new trend. Certainly many customers in my
shop, Mr. Books in
Tonbridge, make very bad noises about the
dreaded Amazon; that said I get just as many saying, when I offer to order in a
new title which isn't on the shelf, things like "Oh don't worry I'll get
it on Amazon."
Buying online has become a habit. It's
convenient, quick and, above all cheap. In the vast majority of cases it's
unfortunately true that new books can be bought cheaper retail on Amazon than
my wholesale price through Gardners Books. Just think about that for a second?
How did it get to that stage? What chance have we independents got against such
Reading the article about the revived Waterstones
(shock, horror without the apostrophe) I was quite surprised by James Daunt's
strategy of no discounting at all in his shops. Maybe he can get away with that
in swanky central London but most customers would appreciate some level of
discount. That's why at Mr.
Books I've been recently trialing a 20% off
new book orders offer. I have to be a little careful, due to varying discounts
on some books, so advertise the offer as on 'most' books but this seems to be
working. Certainly my Christmas orders are massively up on last years. That
said I do of course need to sell twice as many to make the same profit. I'm
pretty convinced by the evidence of the last month or so that customers really
appreciate the gesture and, for those disgruntled with Amazon, it gives them an
added reason to drift back to buying their books in a proper bookshop.
Like Waterstones Mr. Books also sells greetings cards and board games, like Scrabble and
Boggle although, unlike Mr Daunt, I'll be stopping short of selling Kindles for
a good while yet! Mark
Richardson, Mr. Books Bookshop, Tonbridge, Kent.