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Old 02-11-2013, 08:26 PM   #91
SteveEisenberg
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From the OP link:

Quote:
Certain shoeshops in the US are already charging customers to try on shoes, she noted.
I question that. Googling, I find some people making the claim that such a shoe store (or, in some renditions, ski shop) exists. But I'm not finding the name of the stores that are actually doing it. Now, if the same person comes in day after day trying on shoes and never buys, that one person might be told they have to start paying. But as a normal policy? What if the would-be customer says the shoes don't fit?

As for books, just one person made the charge-for-browsing suggestion, and she's not a retail bookseller. I wouldn't take the suggestion too seriously.

Last edited by SteveEisenberg; 02-11-2013 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:52 PM   #92
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ninjalawyer View Post
A few things:

(i) there are a lot of people (both religious and secular philosophers) who would disagree that morality is just a "matter of opinion";

(ii) even if it is just opinion, not all opinions are equally valid (this seems to be a common fallacy people ascribe to); and

(iii) calling this behaviour "immoral" or "unethical" stretches those words to the point of meaninglessness.

If we're going to go so crazy as to say that this is immoral, why not go all the way and describe it as "retail terrorism"? Would that opinion be equally valid?
You may disagree that it is unethical, but there's nothing crazy about that position. But the slippery slope fallacy is a fallacy.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:15 PM   #93
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...eal-bookstore/

The Washington Post has some responses from bookstore owners.
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:35 PM   #94
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I wonder how much of a real phenomenon this is. I would expect it to be more prevalent at the big box stores rather than at small independent stores. Just because someone looks around and doesn't buy a book doesn't mean they were using your store as a showroom, it might just mean that they didn't buy a book today. The person who comes in your store is a whole lot more likely to buy a book than someone who doesn't come in your store.
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:51 PM   #95
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I used to love browsing the bookstore - an experience that wasn't replaced by on-line shopping. Yet I would buy most of my fiction books from Amazon primarily so I can share them with my mom who lives 500 miles away (her Kindle is linked to my account).

To make up for it, I always made a point of buying 2-3 of reference/non-fiction books (which I prefer in paper) and magazines every visit. More than I will ever get to but I am a firm believer in doing my part to keep the stores/vendors that I frequent in business.

However, Barnes and Noble no longer represents the bookstore experience to me. They used to have many tables/displays that I could easily browse and find a lot of new books. Now it seems that there are only books I've already read as more and more space is allocated to other things. So my desire to keep them in business has lost its steam.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:00 PM   #96
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuantumIguana View Post
I wonder how much of a real phenomenon this is.
It's common in every industry that has an online sales component.

Quote:
The person who comes in your store is a whole lot more likely to buy a book than someone who doesn't come in your store.
Well, yes. Which is why everyone who works at a bookstore thinks it's a ridiculous idea. The CEO of HarperCollins thinks maybe you could charge people to browse for books. She also apparently hangs out in places where people pay to try on shoes. She doesn't seem to grasp that books are not like shoes, that there is no $350 elite version of the new bestseller.

(I think you could potentially charge people for access to a book club ... but that's an entirely different model from a bookstore.)
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Old 02-12-2013, 01:26 AM   #97
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Before making a purchase, I usually browse Amazon, read the reviews, and make a decision. I then purchase locally. I'm long past trusting salespeople except maybe in regards to fly fishing.

The decision to buy locally is an ethical one meant to support the local economy. By the reasoning of some in this thread, perhaps I am unethically using Amazon. Yet I feel Amazon can shoulder the weight of having become a necessary source of information. Years ago I lived in Seattle and supported Amazon because it was a local company.

I suspect that many people have shopping habits similar to my own.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:02 AM   #98
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In my perfect world... you could browse at your local bookstore to your heart's content and pick out your books. If you need an ebook format, they can sell it to you instead of the paperback or hard cover (your receipt has a code to download from the publisher's site; when you do that step, the store gets charged their lesser fee for the ebook).

I love browsing in book stores, I give my local bookstore business (I wouldn't even mind paying a bit higher than to Amazon), publisher gets money who gives author their money, it's win/win, everyone should be happy.

Ok, back to reality where there's not a chance in hell and all my frolicking unicorns have disappeared.
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Old 02-12-2013, 04:39 AM   #99
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Make shops showrooms with only display copies of books. That cuts down on needed floorspace. If a customer is "sold" on a book by the displayed copy or the staff he gets a code to enter when he orders the book or buys it online. By entering the code the customer gets a discount and the store gets credit and payment from the publisher for making the sale. Turn retail stores into essentially an advertising business paid by the publishers commisions not the customer.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:21 AM   #100
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crossi View Post
Make shops showrooms with only display copies of books. That cuts down on needed floorspace. If a customer is "sold" on a book by the displayed copy or the staff he gets a code to enter when he orders the book or buys it online. By entering the code the customer gets a discount and the store gets credit and payment from the publisher for making the sale. Turn retail stores into essentially an advertising business paid by the publishers commisions not the customer.
I was thinking something similar. Have a sort of "loyalty card" scheme with a chip or barcode. Whenever you buy a book at a participating store (online or B&M) you get a discount. Whenever you enter a B&M store you could swipe your card for extra "points" which accumulate to extra discounts. B&M stores get a cut based on how many swipes they get and how many led to actual sales (you could even take it so far as to swipe interest in a particular book but that might be impractical). It would need to be voluntary on all sides and some people would have privacy concerns - but so long as the card only identified itself uniquely (and the points it accrued) I think many people would sign up.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:37 AM   #101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charmian View Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...eal-bookstore/

The Washington Post has some responses from bookstore owners.
This:
Quote:
Politics & Prose co-owner Lissa Muscatine said showrooming is a major problem for the industry, but not so much for her store. “As long as customers appreciate the services that indies provide — a gathering spot that offers human interaction, expert booksellers who can make thoughtful and customized recommendations, other kinds of programming, and the browsing and discovery experience that readers enjoy — we won’t have to contemplate something as draconian as charging people to browse the aisles. I certainly hope it never comes to that.”
People walk into stores just to browse all the time.
Sometimes they buy, sometimes they don't. Not everybody that fails to buy is showrooming.
In fact, unless the bookstore is well-placed in a high traffic area, people are *not* going to go out of their way to visit a bookstore just to showroom. So most likely people who invest the time and effort intended to buy but the store failed to close the deal. Given the limited catalogs of most B&M stores, compared to online, most online shoppers by now know better than to waste time showrooming and just go straight to the online sources.
Which is to say, the prevalence of bookstore showrooming is way overstated. (I'm sure they'll all say the same thing, if they're honest; "It's a big industry problem but I don't see much of it.") Unless the customer actually pops out a phone to buy on the spot the odds are more likely the customer was just browsing to see if anything caught their eye and found nothing worth buying.

Now, BEST BUY, they have a serious showrooming problem because TV and audio gear needs to be physically experienced before buying. But bookstores? They have bigger problems to worry about.
Top of the list: generating traffic.
For which problem a cover charge is counterindicated.

But if they want to try it I'm sure Amazon and Kobo won't mind.

Last edited by fjtorres; 02-12-2013 at 07:42 AM.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:42 AM   #102
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I realize that I read a while back about bridal shops doing this, because brides were going in and trying on gowns (something that takes a lot of salesperson time) and then ordering online, and also because some people who weren't even planning to get married were trying on gowns just for fun.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:42 AM   #103
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Originally Posted by ApK View Post
I don't see anything unethical with it at all, not unless the market economy is an inherently unethical construct.
Under its current implementation in the US, I'd make that exact argument. I don't have all my proof in hand (for example, a quote from a business major that CEOs are paid the big bucks because they go into the legal grey areas so the company can make big bucks), but I'd even go so far as to argue that laissez-faire capitalism and ethics are mutually exclusive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by graycyn View Post
There are plenty of times I would love to be able to purchase in a store rather than have to shop online and wait for delivery, but more and more often I am forced to do just that.

I speak up about it too, to let the stores who discontinue stocking a product I buy regularly know that they will be losing that sale to an online vendor but they simply do not care.
There's a game store where every time I've come in, they haven't had what I was looking for- and its an item they should reasonably have one of in stock. Now, I could get it cheaper from the War Store or one of any other deep discounters online, but it kills the impulse buy effect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crossi View Post
Make shops showrooms with only display copies of books.
I could see that working better than charging for admission. You like the book, you have some way of notifying the staff you want it (pull a paper slip? swipe a club card?) and then your books are pulled and sent to the cage behind the register. When they're down to the now much-abused display copy, that one gets sold at a deep discount.

They're already doing it at computer parts stores.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:59 AM   #104
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This is a request to those who have asserted that browsing without buying has some kind of ethical value: can you tell me what normative ethical positions you are relying on to make this assertion?
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:43 AM   #105
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Morality is a matter of opinion. There's no objective measure for it, and you'll get at least as many opinions as you ask people.

There are legitimate reasons to object to "showrooming" for some retailers. In places like an electronics store, where people are shopping for expensive items they don't necessarily know much about, and are looking for help in choosing the right one, it's an expensive waste of time. The store pays the employees to spend time with people who have no intention of buying, and while helping those people, they can't help people who would buy if they could get some help. So there, I suspect, a lot of people would see it as somewhat unethical, and it is more common thant it used to be.
We'll have to agree to disagree on whether or not morality is merely a matter of opinion; there are certainly a multitude of philosophers that would disagree with such a gross oversimplification. It might be someone's opinion that this is unethical, but not all opinions deserve equal weight.

And honestly, I just don't understand how it could be reasonable to conclude that it's unethical for a customer to use all of the information available to make an informed choice. The stores in your example made the choice to do retail in the way you describe; a customer not buying, for whatever reason is the cost of doing business that comes with that choice. These businesses should be pricing their products to take that into account, and if they can't then they fail which is sad but not the fault of consumers who made an informed business decision to buy from someone else.

Full disclosure and a Question for you: I go to the local bookstore all the time and use a smartphone app to scan UPCs on the back of books to quickly get Amazon.com reviews; if I like the book I'll typically buy it at the store or grab an ebook from Kobo. Have I acted unethically by wasting Amazon's bandwidth when I had no intention of buying from them? Or is it only immoral when we want to protect a physical bookstore's business model?

Last edited by Ninjalawyer; 02-12-2013 at 08:52 AM.
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