Round up #190: sci-fi classics, the smell that sells books

Round up #190: sci-fi classics, the smell that sells books

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Amazon would have a tough time doing this

Well, you know how I keep saying that brick-and-mortar bookstore (I’m a former manager of one) need to make it so that people want to shop in their stores? Get people to be consciously willing to spend more money there to support you?

How do you do that?

In my store, we did it through product knowledge, for one thing. I read a book in every section of the store, and encouraged my employees to do the same. I asked (and suggested that they ask) a regular customer in that area for a recommendation.

That meant I read a Jude Deveraux and a Jerry Ahern, for example.

That was an eye-opener and fun for me, and I think it did help my customers feel valued.

I didn’t require my employees to do it, though…just recommended it. After all, I couldn”t have them take the time to do it when we were open, and I didn’t want to control what they did at home.

So, there’s got to be an easier way to make shopping a bookstore a rewarding experience, right?

How about pumping the smell of chocolate into the store?

According to this

Pacific Standard article by Tom Jacobs

there was a scientific study (albeit a fairly small one) that tested just that idea.

They pumped a subtle smell of chocolate into a bookstore. They did it at different times of the day (to create controls).

When the chocolate was going, people stayed in sections longer…and bought more (a lot more…any store would be happy with the amount of growth that is reported).

I haven’t read the original paper, but I recommend the article. I thought it was particularly interesting that they had people predict first which genres were associated with chocolate, and which weren’t…and while genres in the former group sold better, so did ones in the latter…just not as much.

I think it would tend to drive me out of the store…but I’ve smelled worse in a bookstore and stayed there. ;)

Buy a NOOK Simple Touch, get a $20 B&N gift card

This one surprises me a bit. Barnes & Noble did discount the NOOK tablets, and then say they were going to stop making them on their own. However, at the same time, they committed to continue making NOOK non-tablets.

Right now, you can get a $20 gift card when you buy a NOOK Simple Touch. Here are the details:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/help/help_cds2.asp?PID=47579

You have to act soon if you want to do this…basically, in the next week.

The question is…do you want to do this? ;)

My Significant Other was in a Barnes & Noble not too long ago, and said that the clerk was really pushy. That was particularly true about re-upping with their membership program, which costs $25 a year.

My SO (nicely at first, I’m sure) explained that it made sense for us to have the card when our adult kid was in college (the only real place to shop on campus was a Barnes & Noble college bookstore), but since that wasn’t the case any more, we weren’t going to renew.

The clerk pushed it, and my SO finally said something like, “Look, I don’t know if you are going to be here in a year…I”m not sure it’s a good investment.”

If I had to bet right now, I think I would bet that the B&N card would still be  usable  a year from now…but I can see the concern. ;) We also buy so much from Amazon that we wouldn’t likely to buy enough at B&N to make it worth our while.

Still, it effectively brings the price of a touchscreen non-backlit EBR (E-Book Reader) down to $59 (without a power supply…that’s about $10 more). That compares to the Kindle Paperwhite, at $119 (ad-supported).

This might indicate that new B&N hardware was coming out before too long…we should get some interesting announcements from major players before the end of September.

While I think B&N has made good hardware, I would think one, twice, and three times before I did this…

New NYT app for the Kindle Fire…use free through the end of the month

I’ll admit it: one of my first mental associations with the New York Times now is “paywall”.

I’m not one of those people who think that everything should be free on the web. You’ve got to find some way to run a business, although I’m not convinced paywalls are the model of the future.

On heavy advertising rotation is the

NYTimes for Kindle Fire

You can get the app for free, and use it to read unlimited articles through July 31st.

After that?

The least expensive option I saw was $14.99 a month.

It’s possible you’ll be able to use it after July 31st to read ten free articles a month, but I’m not sure.

I tried the app…as my adult kid would say, “meh”. :)

They made an app for a multimedia tablet…but it’s very heavily text-based (plain black text on a white background, for the most part).

In the “Books” section, I’d say that about one article in every five or so had a picture. I didn’t see any videos.

The navigation seemed a bit clunky. I couldn’t double tap or pinch and spread to increase font size, although that was an option in the menu.

I’d say the biggest plus was being able to use text-to-speech with it…although it took me a few guesses to find the pause button (and I’m a pretty good guesser on these things). It was in my bottom right, horizontal lines.

It was nice that when I went to home it kept playing, though. I also have to say that did remember where I was (both in the audio, and visually) when I went to home and then came back.

I might look at it again while it’s free, and if I get ten free articles after that, maybe use it.

Thought you might be interested…

The New Yorker says Barnes & Noble can make it as a bookstore

I found this

The New Yorker article by James Surowiecki

(and to which I was directed by Publishers Weekly) on the future of Barnes & Noble worth a read.

It’s not just talking about B&N, but about e-books versus p-books (it was nice to see them used my preferred abbreviation there) and the future of the business.

It points out research that says that the vast majority of people prefer reading p-books…and that e-book growth has slowed.

I’ve said for years, though, that I think that the more you love books, the more you love e-books. My guess is that the “serious readers”, the ones who spend much more than the average person on books, are the ones most quickly converting to e-books. If you read every day, voraciously, the advantages of being able to carry one hundred books with you are more important.

If you read a book a couple of times a year, it’s not as big a deal.

People who read casually probably focus more on the experience of reading a book (which may be in some ways symbolic for them) as opposed to the content of the book itself.

That doesn’t mean that I think bookstores (even Barnes & Noble) can’t make it. I’ve written a piece for the end of next month (I’m going to be in a situation of reduced writing opportunities) on how to save the big bookstores. Of course, I might have to write something else if there aren’t any left by then. ;)

Find a sci-fi classic

Every once in a while, I just stumble into some feature in the Kindle store. Today, it was

Kindle Bestsellers in Sci-Fi Classics

That’s one way to find some that are on sale, since that tends to push them on to the list (although they may remain there after the price rises again…the list is only calculated once an hour).

I’d say this isn’t a bad bit of curating. I would disagree with some of them being science fiction (Animal Farm, for one), and some of them are public domain, but generally, I think these are noteworthy. The one drawback is that quite a few of them were currently unavailable, and there were duplicate titles (but different editions).

Worth taking a look, though…if you want my assessment of any of the books, let me know (I’ve read many of them).

What do you think? Would chocolate put you in the mood…to buy a book? If you had to recommend one science fiction book for a non-geek to read…is it on that bestseller list? Would you pay $15 a month (about) for the New York Times access? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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7 Responses to “Round up #190: sci-fi classics, the smell that sells books”

  1. alan Says:

    I’ve been an avid reader of NYT since 96 and have continued though their paywalls, preffered content for ~$30 A yr ( must read Dowd) and now pay $20 a month for the Kindle edition will allows me to read it in all it’s glory(pics and color) on my mac, iPad,iPhone, as well as my kindle. It is indespensable for me. could spend hours a day just at the Times. Thx for you blog. I get so much use out of it and enjoy it I’m going to start paying for it though I never read it on my kindle-just to show my appreciation to you.

  2. D. Knight Says:

    Bufo,
    I wonder how much of the preference for reading p-books over e-books is due to a person’s only experience with an e-book is reading from a tablet. I know some people who don’t mind reading off a backlit screen (you), but I know a lot more who don’t like it, me included. A lot of people don’t realize there is a difference between an RSK and a tablet, so they get a tablet thinking “it’s better because it does more” and then are disappointed with the reading experience. I personally know several people with this experience, and even though that is a small sample, there are probably a lot more.

  3. rogerknights Says:

    If you read every day, voraciously, the advantages of being able to carry one hundred books with you are more important.

    If you read a book a couple of times a year, it’s not as big a deal.

    People who read casually probably focus more on the experience of reading a book

    Heavy readers stand to save more money by getting books at e-book prices thn do casual readers.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Roger!

      Well, if they buy the same books, the percentage saved is the same, right?

      I think, though, that the heavy readers may also be more flexible readers. That may give them the advantage of buying ninety-nine centers, or waiting for a book to come down in price. I’m sure there are people who only read the new Stephen King(s) each year. Those people are probably less able to take advantage of price flexibility.

      • rogerknights Says:

        Well, if they buy the same books, . . . ”

        They can’t buy the same books, if the heavy reader is buying more books (by definition).

        “. . . the percentage saved is the same, right?”

        Heavy readers’ greater volume of purchases means that they “stand to save more”–i.e., in dollars.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Roger!

        Well, they can’t buy all the same books. ;)

        You are correct that if somebody who normally spends $500 on books in a year can spend $400, they have more dollars that year than someone who normally spends $100 a year spending $80. The percentage is the same, but the actual amount is different…and that might more strongly persuade someone to accept perceived limitations or to overcome hesitance.

      • rogerknights Says:

        PS: IOW, if a heavy reader spends $300 / year on books, and a casual reader spends $50, the heavy reader stands to save more (money) by buying an e-reader.

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