eBooks are not the enemy: CLC USA National Director Dave Almack on why the Kindle might even be a bookshop’s best friend

Why the Kindle Can Be a Brick and Mortar Bookstore’s Best Friend

Why the Kindle Can Be a Brick and Mortar Bookstore’s Best Friend

THANK YOU to Lloyd Hodkinson for sharing this superb post from CLC USA National Director, Dave Almack: Why the Kindle Can Be a Brick and Mortar Bookstore’s Best Friend. Dave rises to the eBooks challenge by outlining six reasons why they are not the enemy, and concludes:

As a bookstore guy, I am now encouraged more than ever that e-readers devices can be our friends and not just the enemy to be ignored, avoided or even castigated.  With every new technology challenge that we face, there will also be opportunities to exploit.  On-line retailers reminded us of our special role are curators of content and helped us to improve our unique in store selections.  Big Box stores reminded us that while a good selection of books is important, the right selection of books is even more important.  Mass Merchandisers like Wal-Mart reinforced the reality that our customers need good prices and helped us to become more price competitive and even innovate with bargain book sections and value priced books everyday.  This new e-book challenge will only do the same as we remind people daily that there is nothing quite like the feeling of holding, smelling, reading and enjoying a physical book and then giving one to a friend.

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3 thoughts on “eBooks are not the enemy: CLC USA National Director Dave Almack on why the Kindle might even be a bookshop’s best friend

  1. As someone that’s been reading ebooks for longer than kindles and the like have been around I’ve long thought ebooks aren’t the big bad bogeyman everyone seemed to think they were – after all there really is nothing quite like a real book.
    Yes ebooks are a challenge to traditional B&M shops, but with things coming along like hive.co.uk to allow us to sell them to our customers then it’s potentially not as big a challenge as it was, and as the article says it opens the door for us to be more creative in what we do and how we do it.
    excellent article indeed.

  2. I’m not convinced. I agree we all need to up our game but we have seen a lot of really good shops go under in recent years and that trend is bound to continue. As electronic books continue to be price promoted and trade restricted so the price of paperbacks continues to climb, especially as publishers print in ever larger formats.
    Not having ever sold an electronic book I have no idea what the margins are but I doubt if they compete with Lion Hudson’s discounts to booksellers for physical books.
    I used to sell a fair amount of Software in years gone by but now it is virtually zero. It’s all gone online. Apparently films streamed on the internet have overtaken physical sales of DVDs this year. I used to sell double or treble the number of CDs that I sell now, people download them instead. Do you buy your milk from the supermarket or the milkman? (What’s a milkman you might ask)

    I am stocktaking this week and am always amazed at the amount of stock I am counting. Some of the books are familiar friends that I counted last year, and the year before that. And as we know, dead stock clogs up the shelves and hides the good stuff. And before you say – yes I do regularly weed out the old stuff and reduce it but that still doesn’t guarantee a sale. (one of my bookagents took a box and a half of books and CDs on Saturday on sale or return and it came to over £700.)

    So I am convinced that the only way to bring profitabilty back to the shops is for publishers to operate an annual no quibble stock swap policy regardless of condition on 100% of their stock. The market leader on this is Lion Hudson. A couple of others do a partial scheme. If I try and promote a book it goes face out, it goes in the window, it goes out on bookstalls, I take a copy home to read etc. It will never be pristine unless I leave it in the box so the books aren’t always eligable for some of the partial schemes that exist. I am convinced that with such a no quibble scheme in place it would rapidly increase stock turn, profitibilty and buying confidence. I’m not wanting it handed to me on a plate while I sit back and watch the sales but I do think that if publishers want to see their stock in shops then they are going to have to do a lot more or else the shops won’t be there in the future.

  3. Geoff,

    I have to totally agree that you raise some interesting and very pertinent points.

    I like to think even publishers are beginning to acknowledge that though ebooks are great they are not, even with the increased sales we hear people talk about (although in the US this figure is beginning to stabalise a little!), enough to necessarily sustain a longterm thriving publishing business – the figures themselves seem to be showing this to a degree.

    However sadly ebooks and digitsation aren’t going away so what is needed is, as you say, new iniatives, new working models and yes new schemes to help push the book and other products in b&m shops – and yes it is also beginning to be acknowledged and accepted that b&m stores are still places where a lot of decision making and book/product finding happens, even though sadly they aren’t where the books/items are necessarily then being purchased from due to pricing factors and things such as digitial format/ebook exclusivity with kindle in particular.

    Therefore it is my hope that we can work more together, bookseller and publisher, much like we used to before the digital age perhaps! (though sometimes this hope wains as I hear about things like penguin pop up shops and other publisher initiatives that are direct to the reader and that undercut the shops)

    Perhaps a model such as no quibble swap stock, as you suggest, perhaps longer terms on payment up to the golden 90 days and more that the mighty ones get, perhaps stock solely on consignment terms, or perhaps just better standardised margins across the breadth of the markets – thus allowing equal fields for all.
    All of these are possibilities and potentialities, so too are the idea of more platforms like hive.co.uk where the indie bookshops and local bookshops nearest to an area get part of the sale and help promote the site etc. Mult-platformed sites by publishers where both benefit, where both are supported – pipe dreams maybe, but do they need to be?

    I maintain that ebooks are not the problem, they are a challenge.
    The truth is that the problem is a much deeper one of which ebooks, online sellers, margins & terms, direct selling and digitisation are all part of it, and only when we truly acknowledge this and really start addressing the core problem and acknowledging and dealing with the realities of how we see things from both the bookseller and publisher side will we be able to move forward and work out a real, honest and frank solution to how we all keep books on the high street and in peoples active view, or if we even do – because maybe for some that’s no longer a real objective and this too must be acknowledged and dealt with.

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