bookselling

UK Bookshop number halved in 7 years (via @thebookseller)

Just a quick one: even the UK Bookseller association thinks the conclusions drawn from this research are a little extreme.

[Bookseller Association chief executive Tim] Godfray said: “While the overall picture in terms of the number of independent booksellers in the UK is still one of contraction, our figures contradict the Experian results and indicate this rate of decline actually has been slowing for the last two years. We are not seeing the end of the bookshop.”

From my own perspective as a reader and buyer of books, this is the kind of result I expect: a rapid closure of the weakest bookshops, followed by a decline in closures as the industry adapts. A modern bookshop needs to foster community and be a place of discovery, a real life recommendation engine, even. I'm therefore inclined to agree with the gentleman from the Bookseller Association that this is merely a sign of an adapting industry, not a dying one.

Read it here: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/bookshop-numbers-halved-seven-years-says-research.html

A New Form of Price Gouging? (via @PnPBookSeller)

Jon Page from Pages & Pages Booksellers comments on eBook price gouging of retailers:

We are all familiar with traditional price gouging where a retailer “prices goods or commodities much higher than is considered reasonable or fair.” It is something we often accuse petrol stations of before long weekends and there have been allegations made against some retailers after Hurricane Sandy in the US.

But there is a new form of price gouging which is occurring in the eBook world and it is escaping notice because consumers are not the ones being gouged, it is eBook retailers.

As someone who buys books and has not the slightest insight into the difficult word of running a book store, it's sobering to see the costs incurred by small retailers. Of course, it's no secret that Amazon uses loss-leading strategies in the hope that a future monopoly will recover costs used to drive competitors out of business.

This form of price gouging, where the small retailer is gouged in ordered to preserve a publisher’s return, only helps to speed up the process. What boggles my mind is I know publishers don’t want a dominant Amazon yet some of them continue to sell books in a way that leads in only one direction: a book world with only Amazon.

I've previously suggested a way that small book sellers can compete with giant online retailers in this article (tl;dr: by making your store a community site, much like how bars survive in a world of liquor stores despite charging more for the same product). However, this doesn't seem to work well for the ephemeral process of buying an eBook, which is as easy as (easier than?) buying one in a store.

Note: I ground my teeth with frustration when Jon listed a DRM fee as part of his baseline costs.

DRM helps nobody. Again.

Read the entire article here: http://bitethebook.com/2012/11/13/a-new-form-of-price-gouging/

Don't Write off Physical Sales Too Early (via @thebookseller)

The Bookseller writes on how the publishing industry should avoid the mistakes of the record industry:

Publishers should not be too quick to write off physical products and should encourage competition between a number of digital players to avoid the mistakes the record industry made, the director general of the Entertainment Retailers Association has said.

This is a good point, actually. The publishing industry's move to digital has jumped into the same problems that crippled the advance of digital music ten years ago. Did I mention TEN YEARS AGO? Amazingly, most haven't learned from that lesson: ebooks have DRM, ridiculous regional constraints, excessive prices - all the artifacts of moving from a physical distribution process and trying to cram the digital versions of their entertainment product into boxes analogous to the physical versions.

Kim Bayley gave a presentation to more than 100 indies at the Booksellers Association’s Independent Booksellers Forum conference in Coventry on Monday (26th September) and discussed the Record Store Day initiative. Record companies provide independent stores with exclusive products, mostly vinyl albums and singles, created especially for the day. It is now in its third year, and 180 stores took part in 2011.

This is a great idea (for bookshops and publishers) and another interesting way to provide collectibles. Because, after all, the only physical books we'll be buying in the future are the good quality ones, or the ones that offer us something special, like a signature or limited edition cover.

Read the entire article here: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/dont-write-physical-too-early-trade-warned.html

The Magical Secrets of Book Ordering (via @bellabookgirl)

The lovely BellaBookGirl from TLCBooks wrote a cool blog post describing her buying decisions when getting in new stock for her independent book store.

Each month I literally go through hundreds of books from many publishers and decide what to order for the upcoming months. Did you catch that? Hundreds of books. And on big months, I would say thousands when you look at October lists (pre-Christmas) and dealing with over 20 publishers. Can you imagine, as a bibliophile, how you have to reign in the urge to buy it all? I seriously feel like cackling “mine, mine, mine, they will all be mine!” but I refrain and act professionally when all I want to be is a kid in a candy store.

There are some really interesting bits of information in here, from both a publishing and writing perspective. I've always thought covers were super important to draw in the curious eye, and Bella makes a good point:

Many people won’t give a book as much of a chance if the cover doesn’t reflect what is described through the blurb on the back. The cover will attract the wrong people who will read the blurb and feel a disconnection with the book already. Game over.

And of course there are lots of other interesting points, as well as a list of things that do not influence her buying decision, such as promises of refunds and/or free steak knives.

At Literarium we want to support independent bookstores in this brave new world of publishing, and we have a few ideas to help connect writers to their local bookstores. These kind of insights into what convinces a bookseller to stock your book are valuable to anyone wanting their books on the very limited shelf space available.

Read the rest here: http://tlcbooks.wordpress.com/2011/08/07/the-magical-secrets-of-book-ordering/

What killed the big-box retailer (via @Slate)

Slate talks about Borders' demise in 'Readers Without Borders'.

As George Mason economist Tyler Cowen observed poignantly: "Not one single investor, in the whole wide world, thought Borders had a real economic future."

I tend to belong to the camp that doesn't pay much attention to economists' post-hoc statements. It's easy to say something didn't have 'a real economic future' in hindsight.

The company itself gave three reasons for its demise in its corporate communication-cum-suicide note. "We were all working hard towards a different outcome," President Mike Edwards said. "[B]ut the headwinds we have been facing for quite some time, including the rapidly changing book industry, e-reader revolution and turbulent economy, have brought us to where we are now."

The article goes into four reasons that Slate feels were the root cause of Borders' problems.

Read the article here: http://www.slate.com/id/2299642/