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Old 01-12-2013, 03:26 PM   #16
fjtorres
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I entirely agree. Amazon's web site is great for browsing. They really do know how to sell books. (And pretty much everything else, for that matter.)
Indeed.
It is a documented fact that for a lot of people step one in buying anything is Amazon. Even if they end up buying local the research at Amazon saves them time and money.
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Old 01-12-2013, 03:41 PM   #17
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It is a documented fact that for a lot of people step one in buying anything is Amazon. Even if they end up buying local the research at Amazon saves them time and money.
I try to buy locally, but I always check Amazon before buying anything to compare, read reviews, and decide how much I will pay. I'm willing to pay a few dollars more for a local purchase, but not 2-3 times as much which happens too often.

I can live without B&N. I would feel bereft without Amazon.
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Old 01-12-2013, 04:15 PM   #18
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...
Maybe we go back to the 70's, before the big chains, before the warehouse stores... To newstands and general retailers and indies.

There are still lots and lots of indies out there.

...
Indies face the same difficulties as B&N- expensive leases, small inventory, payroll, price conscious shoppers, online competition.

Would someone drive to an indie store to pay full price for the latest best seller?

I googled book stores in my state and noticed that most were in high income well-to-do areas. That may be the key for their survival.
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:33 PM   #19
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Indeed.
It is a documented fact that for a lot of people step one in buying anything is Amazon. Even if they end up buying local the research at Amazon saves them time and money.
This would be me! And nine times out of ten, I will end up getting at Amazon. Low prices and being a prime member with 2 day free shipping just works.

Sometimes it's the only way to go. I can no longer find Purex 3 in 1 laundry sheets in any store, but I found them on Amazon and got them. Instead of going into Boston just to get a certain brand of almond extract I get 3 bottles of it for less time and money than it would have taken me to go into Boston for them.
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:55 PM   #20
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Indies face the same difficulties as B&N- expensive leases, small inventory, payroll, price conscious shoppers, online competition.
Definitely. The advantage they have is being able to select stock based on local demand. If the locals want vampire novels, they can stock the whole Anita Blake series, the Ann Rice set, and the Twilight books. If the locals don't care about vampire novels, they can skip all of those and stock extra military adventures instead. Or whatever. B&N had some consideration of local interests, but not much; national corporate rules required that they carry and promote certain titles regardless of how much interest the local crowds had--the idea was "these are the popular books; push the and the locals will buy them."

And the attitude extends to their other items. I was in B&N a couple of months ago, considering getting a Nook Classic to replace my dying PRS-505, and saw the Huge! Colorful! Display! for the tablets... they had the Classic for less than $100, which was within my budget. I didn't think it had the all features I wanted but maybe it had enough, so I went to ask.

They didn't have a feature list. Didn't have an info-card for it. Didn't know its storage capacity or filetype support. That convinced me that, even if it *did* have the features I consider bare-minimum for purchasing a new ereader, I didn't want to buy one from them; obviously, I wouldn't have access to any support for it.
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Old 01-12-2013, 06:12 PM   #21
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Would someone drive to an indie store to pay full price for the latest best seller?
Maybe.
Full price for full service?
Buying books from somebody who won't sell you a damaged book and tell you to take it up with corporate?
As you just said, indie stores are doing well in affluent areas. Well, affluent people value quality service and they don't have to swallow surly incompetent staff as the price of saving a few bucks.

B&N just happens to be positioned with the worst of both worlds: crappy service like the general retail book sellers and high prices like the niche bookstores. And then they are constantly compared to you-know-who and their reputation for service *and* low prices.
It's a three front war for them.
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Old 01-12-2013, 06:15 PM   #22
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Definitely. The advantage they have is being able to select stock based on local demand.
That's no advantage. There are no local tastes. The entire world watches CNN. Everyone wants the same things. The NY Times and Oprah tell us what we want to read.
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Old 01-12-2013, 06:22 PM   #23
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Definitely. The advantage they have is being able to select stock based on local demand.
Personal service.
For regular book buyers, good store operators can and do engage the customer. You don't have to be a genius to know that somebody who makes a habit of popping in the same weekday at the same time is somebody worth engaging.

And ambiance matters; unless the store is swamped, taking a few seconds to actually converse (beyond canned queries) with the customer helps a lot. A comment about the book, the weather, sports, whatever... Just an acknowledgement the customer isn't just a wallet with legs.
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:07 PM   #24
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Personal service.
For regular book buyers, good store operators can and do engage the customer. You don't have to be a genius to know that somebody who makes a habit of popping in the same weekday at the same time is somebody worth engaging.

And ambiance matters; unless the store is swamped, taking a few seconds to actually converse (beyond canned queries) with the customer helps a lot. A comment about the book, the weather, sports, whatever... Just an acknowledgement the customer isn't just a wallet with legs.
I agree with this. If book stores can add value, they can survive -- especially if they can get by on lower margins. Give away the popular books and make money on other stuff -- coffee, collectible books, used e-readers. I just don't see how a small book store competes with Wal-Mart or Amazon on the NYT best sellers.
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:07 PM   #25
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Definitely. The advantage they have is being able to select stock based on local demand.
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Originally Posted by fjtorres View Post
Personal service.
For regular book buyers, good store operators can and do engage the customer. You don't have to be a genius to know that somebody who makes a habit of popping in the same weekday at the same time is somebody worth engaging.

And ambiance matters; unless the store is swamped, taking a few seconds to actually converse (beyond canned queries) with the customer helps a lot. A comment about the book, the weather, sports, whatever... Just an acknowledgement the customer isn't just a wallet with legs.
Regional differences? Perhaps, east vs west coast thing.

Maybe that is their secret. I really don't know as I haven't visited one in many years. There are two left within 40 miles of me and both only keep "banker's hours."
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:24 PM   #26
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I just don't see how a small book store competes with Wal-Mart or Amazon on the NYT best sellers.
They compete by *not* depending on the carpet-bombed "bestsellers".
You carry them, sure, but you give the store a focus and personality to appeal to people looking for more than what you can find at the nearest chain drugstore. Instead of relying on "bestseller-hunters" they can cultivate a reputation with a target demographic (or genre) and make *that* the cash cow, in addition to the "bestsellers" and a reasonable assortment of other demographics. So an indie near a science and engineering or technical university would reasonably focus their inventory heavily on SF and Fantasy while a surburban store might focus more heavily on romance or if its an upscale neighboorhood, lit-fic.

As long as the BPHs carperbomb the universe with their "bestsellers" the likeliest road to survival is service, counter-programming, and followups.
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:33 PM   #27
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Regional differences? Perhaps, east vs west coast thing.
Or a NY vs the world thing.
http://strangemaps.files.wordpress.c...-newyorker.jpg

More seriously; reading preferences *will* vary by region, demographics, and neighborhood. You probably won't be selling too many books on the joys of deer hunting in Beverly Hills, for example. On the other hand, a curtained-off side room full of 50 Shades-style should do gangbuster business in the suburbs.
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:39 PM   #28
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There can be niche bookstores. The neighborhood I live in has a high lesbian population, and there is a bookstore that specializes in books for that demographic. It appears to do quite good business.
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:45 PM   #29
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And ambiance matters; unless the store is swamped, taking a few seconds to actually converse (beyond canned queries) with the customer helps a lot. A comment about the book, the weather, sports, whatever...
Of course, that can very easily backfire. A *LOT* of people'd give nosy buggers like that the stinkeye and then never come back. If the customer looks like they actually need help, fine, approach with a "Can I help you?" or equivalent (and, seriously, give them at least a full minute - they might just be a browser rather than need help finding something!), but otherwise leave them alone and wait to let them come to you for "engagement".
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:38 PM   #30
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There can be niche bookstores. The neighborhood I live in has a high lesbian population, and there is a bookstore that specializes in books for that demographic. It appears to do quite good business.
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