Archive for the ‘Brick-and-mortar bookstores’ Category

Round up #145: sight-reading vs. listening, B&N CEO O-U-T

August 23, 2016

Round up #145: sight-reading vs. listening, B&N CEO O-U-T

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

One Murder More reportedly wins three Silver Falchion awards!

I’m waiting for

Killer Nashville

to post the official results before I do a full post (and celebration), but I thought some of you would be curious: my sibling’s first novel, One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), won three Silver Falchion awards this past weekend! That’s amazing, and puts Kris in good company, including Anne Perry, John Sandford, Dean Koontz, and Sue Grafton.

More to come…

Barnes & Noble loses CEO

In this

press release

Barnes & Nobles announced the “departure” of its Chief Executive Officer, Ronald D. Boire (after not quite a year in the post).

This is being reported both as Boire being fired, and as Boire “stepping down”…but regardless, this is a negative for the Big 5 traditional publishers (who are still reliant on brick and mortar bookstores…I’m a former manager of one). Nobody who is already established in business likes uncertainty, and this is B&N’s third CEO recently.

The press release says that the Board determined Boire wasn’t “a good fit”…and that’s the Board’s fault.

One of my proudest things after I became the training manager at a franchise (where I think we had five owners in seven years…something like that) was that I lengthened the average longevity of my team significantly. When I was hired there, I was told there was a ninety-day “ramp up” period. I asked how many people didn’t get through that period, and I was told two out of three! Sure enough, I was hired with two other people, and I was the only person still there after three months.

That’s just…inefficient hiring, in my opinion.

I’ve hired a lot of people over the years, and I think I’m pretty good at it.

After I was the Training Manager for a year, the average longevity went from under three months to over a years, as I recall…basically, nobody left. Yes, I hired people during that year, but not that many because turnover was low. If I hired them, they stayed.

If the Board hired somebody who wasn’t a good fit, that’s likely to be mostly their fault.

This is odd timing, because we are heading into the most important time of the year…the last three months of the year, in a retail business like this, can easily be 90% of the year’s sales.

Maybe if Boire had made it a full year, the departure would have cost them more?

Replacing the CEO at the end of August is a little bit like replacing your pilot while your plane is at the gate readying for takeoff.😉

However, Leonard Riggio, who was going to retire in a few weeks (Riggio has been a driving force at B&N since buying the company forty-five years ago) is going to take the helm for now.

The publishers may see that as a good thing…they understand Riggio, even if the leadership is only temporary and therefore limited in determining the strategic direction.

I thought this

RetailDive post by Corinne Ruff

had intelligent insight.

B&N has had some good signs recently…none of them said “Books for Sale in Our Stores”, though.😉 The strategy has been to move the stores more into other things (especially the cafes), cut back on the NOOK even more, and try to remake the online presence. Those strategies aren’t likely to change.

MarketWatch: physical bookstores rebounding

In this

MarketWatch article by Trey Williams

they report a clear rebound for brick-and-mortar bookstores in the USA, continuing last year’s reversal of a downward trend which had been in place since 2009. I’m not sure I agree with Whitney Hu of

The Strand Bookstore in New York

a marvelous institution. Hu says in part:

“The recent growth in sales is a result of the waning novelty of e-readers, such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle…”

On the other hand, Hu is more likely to be right than another authority they quote…Ronald D. Boire, the aforementioned outgoing CEO of Barnes & Noble.😉

Are audiobooks cheating?

Regular readers know I listen to text-to-speech (software which reads books out loud to you) a lot. It’s typically hours a week in the car. I sight read every day, too…on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX (that’s what does the text-to-speech in the car for me), on a

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and a

Kindle Voyage (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

depending on where I am in the house (I also read different books in different parts of the house…I’ve always done that).

I will admit, though,  that there has been a slight, nagging thought: is listening to the book somehow “inferior” to sight-reading it?

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one with that thought.🙂

This

CNN post by Melissa Dahl

resonated with me…it was the same question.

Fortunately, Dahl was referencing this

blog post by Daniel Willingham

The bio states that Willingham is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia.

Willingham addresses the idea of whether or not listening to an audiobook is “cheating”.

I was actually hoping for an fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) study showing that what the brain was doing was similar during sight-reading and listening, but the post isn’t that.

It’s talking more about the process, and how it will “mostly” be the same (although there may be an advantage when reading more complex material to sight-reading it, an adult reading a typical novel should be pretty much the same).

It was interesting to me that the article was at least partly what I would consider to be philosophical…questioning the value of defining reading as “work”, something to be more rewarded when you put something more into it.

I do think some “literati” have that attitude: if a book was harder to read, it was better for you and more worthwhile.

I don’t buy that myself.

I think there is value in reading a “popcorn book”, one which reads with little effort. People used to (and some still do) call them “page turners”, although “button masher” became the digital equivalent for a short time (when was they last time you used buttons to “turn the page” on an e-book reader?).

In fact, and maybe I am a bit of a lazy reader in this regard, I tend not to like very “dense” epics…I describe them as when the sentence is better than the paragraph, the paragraph is better than the page, the page is better than the chapter, and the chapter is better than the book.😉

You know the type…I would put The Worm Ouroborus by E.R. Eddison into that category.

Still, it’s nice to know that a professor of psychology has the opinion that listening to an audiobook isn’t cheating.🙂 I intend to comment on the blog post (if the requirements to do so are not overly restrictive) to ask about text-to-speech versus audiobooks…I suspect that the TTS cognitive processing is much more similar to sight-reading than audiobooks are. I’d be interested to hear what the professor thinks about that…and about the fact that I generally don’t experience prosody (hearing voices when you read).🙂

What do you think? Have you thought of listening to books as “cheating”? Will Barnes & Noble continue to have physical bookselling in dedicated brick-and-mortar stores as a major component of their business? If they don’t, what does that mean for tradpubs? Why do you think brick-and-mortar bookstores have been rebounding? Is it because of a decline in e-book use…or maybe it’s coloring books?😉 Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble: NOOK books out of UK, financials are “in the groove” (of vinyl records)

March 4, 2016

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble: NOOK books out of UK, financials are “in the groove” (of vinyl records)

NOOK Bookstore is no more for the UK

I have readers in the UK (and in many other countries…hello, world!) and I have readers who use NOOKs (B&N has been inconsistent with the capitalization).

That’s one reason I wanted to share this

BBC Technology post

However, it’s also instructive for e-book users everywhere.

According to the post, Barnes & Noble is discontinuing their NOOK E-book store in the UK on March 15th …(there is something about that date…the Ides of March and all. “Et tu, B&N?”).

You won’t be able to buy NOOK books in the UK through the website, the Android app, or on your NOOK devices.

Before the end of May, you’ll have to follow instructions to migrate the books on your account for which you have already paid in order to be able to keep them.

Migrate them where?

B&N is working with supermarket Sainsbury’s.

That’s the instructive part.

I’ve said many times that I think the odds are higher that my descendants will have access to my Kindle store books than to my roughly 10,000 p-books (paperbooks).

I’ve been asked, when I say that, what happens if Amazon goes under?

I find that a pretty unlikely scenario. I like their corporate philosophy of Price, Discount, Service, and I think they are making some growth-oriented (and sustainability-oriented) moves generally.

If they did, though, I’ve suggested that someone else would buy our accounts. They would be very valuable. That doesn’t mean that everything would be the same…we might start paying for storage, for example.

This case, though, does appear to illustrate that.

I don’t expect Sainsbury’s to start selling e-books, although they might, and they might partner with somebody.

If they don’t, how do they make the money to pay for storing and managing the books?

Ads, perhaps? An annual fee? Not sure…

“Books? Oh, yeah, I think we still have some…”

Speaking of Barnes & Noble, they just had 3rd quarter financial results reported.

press release

It wasn’t good, but it was less bad in some areas.

So, do literature lovers have reason to cheer the nation’s largest bookstore?

Well, if you count coloring books…😉

As was made clear in this

New York Times post by Alexandra Alter

B&N’s loss offsetting gains came in things like toys and games…and vinyl records.

Are they on their way to becoming a booklessstore?😉

The post goes on to talk about the relative strength in independent bookstores. I agree with that. Barnes & Noble has been contracting. Indie bookstores have been growing.

The article also says, “The company’s results come at a time when bookstores may be making a comeback and e-books, which have been perceived as print killers, are losing popularity.”

That second statement is one I would like to see defended…and not by the stats they quote from the Association of American Publishers.

My guess is that more e-books are being  sold…it’s just that AAP-reporting publishers may have a diminishing percentage of that market.

Indie publishers, and Amazon’s traditional publishing, may be growing rapidly enough to reduce the tradpubs (traditional publishers) share.

I also wanted to note that Barnes & Noble lost a lot less on the NOOK this time…but I think that’s not because the NOOK is rebounding, but because it is getting towards the bottom of bleeding out. The less you have, the less you have to lose. Let’s say that you have 100 units of something. It falls off 50%, so you’ve lost 50 units…that sounds terrible. If you continue to lose 50% a year, it only takes three more years before your loss is less than ten units a year (100 to 50 to 25 to 12.5 to 6). So, you could report, by counting your losses (not the percentage), that your loss rate in the last year (you lost 6) is much better than that first year when you lost 50…you only had 12% of the loss. It doesn’t change the trend, though.

Will B&N drop NOOK books in the USA?

I don’t see that happening right away…when they came into the USA, the market was more fluid than it was when they came into the UK. That enabled the NOOK to gain a stronger market share in the USA than in the UK.

If they do make that decision, though, I do think someone would be likely to buy the accounts (Kobo might be a suitor, but it also might be just an investment group of some kind).

Is the loss of the NOOK books in the UK good or bad for Kindle owners?

I think it’s bad…I like competition, it tends to drive innovation.

Not terrible, and not surprising, but I don’t think it’s a benefit.

I expect B&N to stick around, but with fewer books in them until they become like vinyl records…

What do you think? What’s the future of B&N in the USA? Do you worry about what could happen with your Kindle books in the future? How does the presence of NOOK books in the USA affect Kindle owners? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Update to a post from yesterday: my new post comparing the five (counting the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick separately) Amazon Alexa devices…

Echo, Dot, Tap, or Fire TV? Which Amazon Alexa device is right for you?

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Rumor: is Amazon planning to open hundreds of brick-and-mortars?

February 4, 2016

Rumor: is Amazon planning to open hundreds of brick-and-mortars?

I’m a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore. I also managed a game store, worked in a Nature Company type store, and my first real job was in a novelty store.

I think I can safely say that I was a successful manager, and I think I understand something about the physical retail business, even though I haven’t been in it (except as a customer) for some time.

I was intrigued when Amazon recently opened one physical bookstore in Seattle, which I wrote about here:

Who would be foolish enough to open a new brick-and-mortar bookstore in the Age of Amazon? How about…

Well, yesterday (on Tuesday), General Growth Properties’ CEO (Chief Executive Officer), Sandeep Mathrani, answered a question in a way that suggested that Amazon might open hundreds of brick-and-mortar stores (possibly in malls).

That statement has been walked back a bit, but many analysts saw this as responsible for a deep drop in Barnes & Noble stock since the announcement (it’s down about 15%).

Money.CNN Graph

Do I think this is true, that Amazon is going to open hundreds of stores?

It’s possible…we’ve had these kind of leaks before that then became reality.

There has been speculation about them being much more than bookstores…maybe a place to do physical returns, for example.

I can see Amazon doing “showrooms” for books and devices, similar to the current store in Seattle.

I have a hard time seeing them doing anything close to a department store.

I don’t think that’s a good model for success in today’s world.

When you run a retail store, you are constantly fighting the rent (if you don’t own the building…which has its own complications, including property taxes).

I just don’t see it working for Amazon to have a store with 25,000 item in it. That would be a tiny fraction of what’s at Amazon.com. You can’t have people comparing what’s in the store with what’s online.

This is what I think they could do:

  • Showcase books, like they are doing in Seattle
  • Show off Amazon devices, which might include simulated rooms, like you can see in some electronic stores
  • Amazon lockers, where you pick up some things you order online before you get there
  • Have a Fed Ex store part of it, to handle returns, but whatever else you wanted to ship
  • Maybe have a print-on-demand machine, to do print books
  • Perhaps have a sort of test kitchen/coffee place, but I’m not sure about that. It would help them to have people try some of the things online
  • Amazon’s “home of tomorrow”, showing off possible future things, including doing focus groups
  • Author talks by Kindle Direct Publishing/Amazon imprint/Amazon independent paperbook authors

That could all make it an experience, a destination…and they really wouldn’t need to sell much in the store to have it as a driver of sales to the website and as a place for conversation.

I think, though, that most likely we would see an expansion of the Amazon Books concept first. I think they will continue to experiment with locker locations, but those two don’t necessarily go together.

Would this be the final straw for Barnes & Noble and perhaps for Books-A-Million, as some investors and writers seem to think?

I don’t really see it as the same space, as a head-to-head competition. What they would do would be very different.

I also don’t see it as having a huge impact on independent bookstores…again, different lanes.

Now, if Amazon wanted to open used bookstores, fed by their third party sellers…that would be a crushing blow for many smaller used bookstores, where there isn’t a whole lot of customer service. Stores with great customer service or other unique experiential elements would be unaffected.

I would like to see Amazon expand Amazon Books. If there was one in my area, I’d go to see it.

My intuition is that this CEO didn’t make it up out of whole cloth…that Amazon has been kicking around the idea, and perhaps has talked to malls.

As to it actually happening?

Um…I’d say I’m about 55/45 in favor of it being in the works, with us seeing the start of it this year.

I also think we need to consider that they would do it extensively outside the USA before they would do it here. There are markets where Amazon could really fill a need by opening physical stores.

Update: nice, informative

re/code post by Jason Del Rey

about the Amazon team involved with the brick-and-mortar retail effort. It does suggest that there could be some stores this year, perhaps eventually adding up to hundreds of stores…which is what I was trying to indicate by us “…seeing the start of it this year”.

What do you think? Does it make sense for Amazon to have hundreds of brick-and-mortar customer-frequented locations (as opposed to fulfillment centers and such)? If they did, what should they have in them? What impact would it have on existing brick-and-mortar stores? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble: Q2 financials…not looking good for NOOK books

December 4, 2015

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble: Q2 financials…not looking good for NOOK books

Should we still care what happens at Barnes & Noble?

Yes.

Competition from the NOOK has apparently driven some interesting improvements in Amazon devices over the years (there was a frontlit NOOK before the Paperwhite, for example), features for e-books (B&N had lending first),  Amazon’s price matching them on e-books, and Amazon has followed B&N in dropping the price on hardware.

I think that influence has considerably weakened, though, and may continue to do so.

The NOOK has been tanking, and for a while, I thought that NOOK Books might continue online after the NOOK hardware ceased to be a brand (B&N doesn’t make the tablets any more, but there is a NOOK name).

However, this

press release

makes me more pessimistic about the NOOK Books.

Specifically, there is this, which I will briefly excerpt:

“NOOK sales of $43.5 million decreased 31.9% due primarily to lower content sales.”

Not primarily due to hardware, but to content.

Content for the NOOK is more than just e-books (there are apps, for one), but I was a bit surprised to see that.

Comparable store sales, excluding the NOOK drag, were pretty steady…only down .5%.

That doesn’t mean that p-books (paperbooks) are going to save e-books, though. They mentioned lower online sales…and increase in wages in the stores.

As a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, I’ve mentioned before, you are fighting three things primarily: rent; wages; and “shrinkage” (shoplifting, employee theft, and damage).

Those are your challenges…but you also have to be a place (nowadays) where people are willing to pay more money than they would pay online to support you.

It doesn’t look like Barnes & Noble is doing that successfully, at least as far as books are concerned.

Toys are going well for them.🙂 That is, looking at 2015 growth versus 2014 levels.

A reader sent me a link to this

Seeking Alpha post by Lutz Muller

in a private e-mail. It’s called “Barnes & Noble’s Problems Are Self-Inflicted”, and that’s the basic premise, supported by interesting charts.

The thrust is that B&N is doing worse than the print book business generally.

While the article does start out with what I would consider a debatable statement (“Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) is the only remaining brick-and-mortar mass retailer of books…”) with which I would think Books-A-Million would disagree, I agree with most of what it says.

Check out the first chart in particular, showing the relative rise in what appears to be online sales of p-books perhaps combined with e-books, and brick-and-mortar bookstores.

To be clear, I think bookstores can survive and thrive in the coming decade.

They need to have personality and they need to be a destination shopping experience.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Barnes & Noble at this point is that.

I also managed a brick-and-mortar game store, and my sense is that B&N’s toy/game sales are benefiting by being in a bookstore. I think it gives them a patina of respectability for some people that going to a Toys R Us might not have.

If B&N was just a toy/game store, I’m not convinced they’d survive…they’d be battling Costco, Walmart, Toys R Us, and, importantly, the online retailers…like Amazon.

When I managed a gamestore, we would give you a hands-on experience. We knew the games (we had game nights for the employees), and we’d open a box to show it to you, if you wanted. We did have a shrink wrap machine in the back, so if everything was still good, we could shrink wrap it again.

That wasn’t my idea (I wasn’t the owner, I was a manager), but I certainly had the authority to take something out of stock rather than shrink wrap it again, if I thought it wasn’t as good as new.

I thought that store was a good shopping experience…and customers generally liked shopping there. There were several branches, including one in the Embarcadero in San Francisco (that one was mine). We did a lot of business with German tourists, who were buying role-playing game elements not yet released in Germany.

That was only a small part of what we sold…we also sold boardgames, chess sets, Go, Mah Jongg, darts (a small, but intricate part of the selection), and more.

We did some radio advertising (I was in a commercial).

We had media coverage of an event I designed, the Great Game Race.

If it had been a bookstore? It could make it, with proper management…maybe not in the Embarcadero, though.😉

Back to B&N…

I don’t claim to be good at predicting what will happen to stock, but I think this is not good for B&N tomorrow. Some people might go bargain shopping after a drop, but honestly, I wouldn’t be investing in it.

Amazon will still have challengers…remember how entrenched the big  publishers were before e-books. Amazon has an increasing amount of the infrastructure of the internet, but would it be harder to  disrupt them than it was to disrupt the near totality of the big publishers in the brick-and-mortar bookstores?

Again, I would say yes.🙂

Amazon is a lot more flexible.

It’s more of an idea (several ideas, actually) than one existing process.

I think they can swivel in a way that the big publishers and brick-and-mortar stores couldn’t.

Barnes & Noble has tried some things…I don’t know that they are the right things, but they did make an effort.

What do you think? Was Barnes & Noble a victim of circumstances, or was it their inherent vulnerabilities? Will they survive? If so, in what form? How does all this affect Amazon…and us as readers? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Meanwhile, at the second largest USA bookstore chain…

November 25, 2015

Meanwhile, at the second largest USA bookstore chain…

Okay, yes, Amazon has opened one brick-and-mortar bookstore, and many indie bookstores are doing well, but I’m sure there are a lot of people who think that a bookstore means a chain bookstore.

They were quite dominant for a while…driven, in no small part, by Barnes & Noble (which is still the largest USA bookstore chain).

The second largest chain, Books-A-Million (AKA BAM!) just reported their financials.

How did they do?

Well, according to this

press release

revenue was down slightly for the past 39 weeks, and the loss (no profit) was bigger. The latter, I believe, is impacted by money they spent in trying to get acquired (not a done deal).

Terrance G. Finley, the CEO (Chief Executive Order), credits adult coloring books to some extent…but Amazon has those, too.

However, another element cited by Finley is something that I think really makes sense for brick-and-mortar bookstores to do (and I’m a former manager of one).

That’s personal appearances.

Sure, Amazon could do virtual things, but it isn’t the same as shaking hands with somebody.

In this case, it was a best-selling author, but also a celebrity: Finley credited multiple appearances by Dr. Ben Carson.

Barnes & Noble is pushing their non-book items this holiday season, in addition to their

Signed Editions by Acclaimed Authors

promotion on Black Friday, which I do think is really cool and was successful for them last year.

However…

I do think it’s important that bookstores tie into local authors and celebrities. Barnes & Noble has always done that, and I assume Books-A-Million does. It’s just that I think that’s important for your customers’ perceptions of you.

I’ve said before, I do think that physical bookstores can succeed in the current (and upcoming) marketplace…you just have to be the kind of place where people are willing to spend more money because they want to support you. They need to like you and the shopping experience, and they need to want to support what they believe are your principles.

BAM! losing more money this year than last is a concern. Making a chain thrive, at this point, is actually more difficult than making an individual independent thrive…and that’s a reversal.

The chains needed those numbers and the similarity from store to store. You wanted to be able to walk into a B&N in any city, be able to find your way around, and have them have what you wanted.

Now, you can shop from Amazon from any city, and it feels familiar.

The indie, on the other hand, can get by on being unusual in what it carries and in how it is presented.

BAM! may get purchased. I don’t see them failing in the next year…and if something serious happens with B&N (which I think is more likely…at least for their physical locations), BAM! would pick up a lot of that business.

Barnes & Noble will do their latest financials webcast on December 3rd at 5:00 PM Eastern…right after the market closes.

Bonus story: big congratulations to my sibling, whose debut novel

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is one of approximately 6,000 books in Amazon’s only physical bookstore! We had a conversation about what that means, and I think it’s very significant. Amazon has a tiny fraction of the books on the website in the physical store…they need to be highly-rated, and/or award winning. One Murder More has 4.7 stars out of 5, with 63 customer reviews. I said to my sibling that that wasn’t enough, though. Having a high rating is like having a qualified resume for a job…if you get 500 resumes, 450 of them might be immediately rejected as unqualified. They still need to decide to hire you, though.🙂

I also think Amazon doesn’t particularly care if people buy the books in the store…they can discover them there and buy them online (the price is the same), that’s fine with them.

I told my sibling I think the biggest advantage of this is the imprimatur of Amazon having chosen to put it in the store. I said (approximately), “I guarantee that representatives from other bookstores, including the chains, are watching very carefully which books Amazon puts in Amazon Books in Seattle.”

If you walk into Amazon’s physical store, you want them to have books discovered by their millions of customers. You want it to be something different from what your local bookstore has. The local bookstore has the wisdom of the buyer (who is probably the owner). Amazon Books has the wisdom of the crowd…that, at least, is going to be the perception.

We’ll see if this affects the sales. I recommended promoting the fact:  “One of the few books chosen to be in Amazon’s only physical bookstore”.

Whether it does or doesn’t, though, it still deserves a huzzah!🙂 HUZZAH!

What do you think? Do you shop at BAM!? If so, why do you choose to go there instead of a B&N or a local independent? Do you go to bookstores because of author events? What’s your best story about seeing an author in a bookstore? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Who would be foolish enough to open a new brick-and-mortar bookstore in the Age of Amazon? How about…

November 4, 2015

Who would be foolish enough to open a new brick-and-mortar bookstore in the Age of Amazon?  How about…

Amazon!😉

I first saw the story that Amazon was opening a brick-and-mortar bookstore in this

The Seattle Times story by Jay Greene

during my morning

Flipboard (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

read.

Subsequent to flipping it into my Flipboard magazine, I saw a bunch of stories on it…and one of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, alerted me to it a well.

That makes sense…it just seems so odd that Amazon would open a physical bookstore, at least at first blush.

There is this mythology (I don’t mean to make a judgement as to whether it’s true or not…just that there is a large set of beliefs) that Amazon has been killing physical bookstores. Why would that move into that market?

Well, I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager (and I think I can reasonably say a successful one), and I might be able to give you some insight.

First, I’ve been saying all along that physical bookstores can succeed, nay, thrive in this environment.

That doesn’t mean every physical bookstore.

The big stores that had volume as their main draw…those are doomed. You can’t compete with Amazon on volume with a  physical store.

You can compete with them on experience.

Maybe that will change some day, when we have more robust virtual reality, but for now, there is something in the real world that online shopping doesn’t replicate.

Physical bookstores can, and do, succeed when people will happily pay more money than they would online, because they want to support the store.

That requires that the store has personality and is unique and that, yes, the customers trust the store.

Amazon can do that with “Amazon Books”.

The store will be informed by the website…cards will have online reviews, and at least some categories will be based on the website (“4.5 stars and above”).

However, there is a second, and really important point.

Amazon doesn’t need the physical store to make a profit.

It’s a showcase, not the whole floor.

One of the things they say they are going to do is “face” all of the books…that is, you’ll be able to see the cover on every book, not just the spine.

Quite simply, that’s a lot more expensive.

You are fighting three main things in a physical bookstore:

  • Rent
  • Salaries
  • “Shrinkage” (shoplifting, employee theft, and damage)

You are paying a lot more rent to sell a give title by having it faced. Of course, you can have more copies of a faced book…you might be able to have it four deep. Four spined books might take up the spot of one faced book.

If you want to have a lot of titles, though, you might traditionally only have one or two copies of some of them. That’s where spining books is cheaper.

Amazon is going to have a relatively small store with everything spaced, and a lot fewer titles than, say, a Barnes & Noble…but each one treated more lovingly (with more attention paid to it).

Shopping there (the store is in Seattle) will probably be one of those great experiences I mentioned. The employees will know the books well, in part because there won’t be as many of them, in part because they’ll have more data about them.

It’s going to be such a teeny tiny part of the business, though, that it will be freed of any requirement to make a profit. In a way, it will be like premium cable versus broadcast TV: a much smaller audience without the pressure of ratings.

With all of that said, I also won’t be shocked if Amazon does make a profit on this. Part of that will be their skill at inventory chain management. Yes, they sell out of things at the holidays, but their expertise with shipping  (including using robots in the fulfillment centers) will make a huge difference.

Update: what about pricing? It’s the same as the website! NPR (which I was hearing in the Flash Briefing on our Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) did a piece on it…and it sounded like an employee was suggesting that a customer use a SmartPhone to pull up the price on a book in the store (presumably, by scanning the UPC…Universal Product Code…or something similar). That’s one of the challenges for the prices being the same as at the website. Prices at the website vary rapidly…if you have price stickers on the books, how are you going to update them? Do people just not know for sure what the price is  until you are going to ring them up? Presumably so…

It’s a fascinating experiment! I think it’s really a pilot…if it succeeds, you might get an Amazon Books in your town.🙂

Update: Reader Malcolm Northrup mentioned that a trip to Amazon Books in Seattle was possible, and I thought it would be great to get a field report! That goes for any of you who go to Amazon Books. I thought I’d add a few particular questions here, if you happen to notice:

  • How was the Customer Service? Did staff answer any questions for you?
  • Was there free wi-fi? (You would think they would have it, since this is at least partially a showcase for the website)
  • What categories of books were towards the front of the store? Which ones were in the back?
  • How was the stock level? Were there “wishing wells” of stacks of books on the floor? How many copies of a book were on a shelf?
  • What advantages did you see in this store versus other bookstores? Technology, for example?

Update: this

Publishers Weekly article by Rob Salkowitz

gives us more insight into the store itself.

One of the big questions for me was how they would deal with the fluctuating prices, since the physical store prices are the same as the web prices. Repricing books (with sticker guns) was a big burden when I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore many years ago. Well, the books don’t have prices like that on them: you use your SmartPhone, and if you don’t have one, an associate helps you.

Update: Amazon Books homepage (at AmazonSmile*

What do you think? If an Amazon Books opened in your town, would you visit it? What would make it attractive enough to make you to return to it? What impact will it have on other bookstores? Feel free to tell me and my reader what you think by commenting on this post.

 

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #302: BAM goes private, Dr. Lao

July 14, 2015

Round up #302: BAM goes private, Dr. Lao

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

You can now send books to multiple devices at the same time

We are now starting to get more robust content management at

Manage Your Content and Devices (aka Manage Your Kindle) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I just noticed a big step forward!

When you go to a book and choose the action of “Deliver”, you get checkboxes for all of the compatible devices registered to your account. So, you can check several devices and deliver the same book all at once**!

That’s a nice change.

There is no limit to the number of devices you can have registered to an account (although you can’t do it for commercial purposes).

That’s great for a family. Suppose you get

Go Set a Watchman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

when it is published tomorrow.

It’s certainly possible that several people on your account may want to start reading it right away (it’s going to be hard to avoid spoilers), and this makes it easier.

I should point out that while you could have a thousand devices registered to the account, usually only six of those devices can have the same book at the same time…if the number of “simultaneous devices licenses” is different from that (some books have fewer licenses, some are unlimited), it will say so on the book’s Amazon product page. This one doesn’t say anything so it’s six.

Nice to see things are still improving!

The Anderson family is buying back Books-A-Million

The second biggest USA bookstore chain is Books-A-Million…they are staying open late for Go Set a Watchman (see above), which is what you want a physical bookstore to do (I’m a former bricks-and-mortar bookstore manager).

It’s been public, but the original family is buying it back.

AL.com article by Kelly Poe

That’s not a bad thing, or an indication of trouble. My intuition is that customers won’t see much of a difference, at least for a while…we’ll see, though.

How big a deal is it to buy the second largest bookstore chain?

$21 million.

Amazon probably sneezes $21 million.😉

Still, I think there is a place for physical bookstores, and I think many people think of BAM as having more…personality than Barnes & Noble. I’m more confident in genre specific, experience heavy stores making it, but if I had to choose between BAM and B&N keeping a bookstore chain going for the next five years, I think I’d go with BAM. I think B&N has a much bigger name and will continue to exist in some form (certainly online)…and let’s just say they may be happy that “books” isn’t part of their name…

Amazon’s Q2 2015 financials will be announced on July 23rd

It feels to me like Amazon is in a bit of a transition.

Yes, it’s a huge company, and those are hard to turn in a new direction…but Amazon’s direction has been intended to evolve for a long time. It’s not a case of them suddenly deciding to do something else, I think…but of reaching a point they intended.

I’ll be listening in particular to hear if they say anything about

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and the

Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

The former (Amazon’s subser, subscription “all you can read” service) has been around long enough to start giving us some real data.

The latter hasn’t…but interest may be becoming clear.

A recommendation: The Circus of Dr. Lao

I was looking at my main Wish List, and I do have a few books on there that I’ve read before…and which I still own in p-book (paperbooks).

Why would I want a book I already own?

In some cases, it’s because I want it for reference…looking things up in an e-book is a whole lot easier than looking it up in a p-book.

I generally don’t re-read books, although I’ve been doing that with the original (Wizard of) Oz books.

One of the main reasons I want to have them…is so other people can read them.🙂 We have a “guest Kindle”, and I would love to have Dr. Lao be one of the books available to people while they are here.

A while back, Amazon tried a thing where you could create lists of Amazon products and write comments about them, similar to what they do with movies and TV shows (and actors and such) at

IMDb.com

Well, I’d done a few lists…and when that feature apparently failed, they converted those lists to Wish Lists.

One of my lists was “(re)make this”, which was a list of things I thought should be made or remade into movies or TV shows.

This is what I said about Dr. Lao:

“This is a wonderfully sardonic book which has been cited by writers (including Ray Bradbury) as an inspiration for them. A circus comes to a small town in Arizona, and people don’t see what they want to see, but what they need to see. The glossary in the back is a marvel. It was adapted in an Oscar-nominate​d 1964 version (it also won a special Oscar for William Tuttle for make-up), and I do like that version…but it had a certain George Pal (the director) glossiness. Returning to the source material and amping up the unpleasantness could make for a new cult favorite movie.”

No question that this is relatively expensive (over $10), and it’s not in KU. However, you might want to add it to your Wish List, so someone else buys it for you…or track it at

eReaderIQ

where they will let you know (for free) if it drops in price an amount you choose.

It will also be interesting to see what they do on

Prime Day (at AmazonSmile*)

on Wednesday.

I could even imagine them doing a 10% off on any e-book…although the Agency Model might mess with that…they’d have to be careful about how they do it.

What do you think? Will BAM stick around? Are you ever reluctant to recommend a book because of what it costs? Do you buy books just to loan them to other people? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

** I just wanted to say that, while I wouldn’t have used it, I figured some people thought of “one fell swoop” in this context. Well, originally, and still the way I use it, a “fell” swoop was a bad thing. It’s when a bird of prey swoops down and gets more than one prey animal at a time, like two mice. In the old days, “fell” was a synonym for evil, and that’s what it means here (from Macbeth by the way).

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Barnes & Noble’s financials for fiscal year 2015

June 27, 2015

Barnes & Noble’s financials for fiscal year 2015

Barnes & Noble just had a financial year end on May 2nd, and they have released the numbers.

There are some interesting indicators here, although I don’t claim to be an expert at this stuff.

Oh, that doesn’t mean that they were growing…overall, consolidated revenue year over year was down 4.9%.

However…

I think they may be making some smart moves.

I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, and I have said all along that physical bookstores can survive, and some of them can thrive.

It’s pretty simple.

They can’t beat online in selection…you’d have to have a giant “back room”, and that would cost too much in rent (one of three major factors you are fighting: rent;  salaries; and “shrinkage”, which is shoplifting, employee theft, and damage).

They can’t beat online in price…the overhead is much higher in a physical store…and it keeps getting higher.

So, what’s left?

Service and the shopping experience.

People have to want to knowingly pay more for your books, because they like you.

B&N is, for the second year, doing a “Get Pop-Cultured” event throughout July.

It mostly celebrates geeky things: Star Wars, time travel (including Doctor Who and Outlander), and manga. I thought it was more appropriate to cover it in one of my other blogs, so you can see more details here:

Geek out in July at Barnes & Noble

As a proud geek and with that bookstore manager experience, I can tell you: it looks to like they’ve put together some great IRL (In Real Life) events! People who go to them probably won’t want that branch to close.

Now, those aren’t really tied into books, although there are books for all of those. They aren’t pretending that those days are about books. During the call, Mike Huseby, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) said as reported in this

financial call transcript from Seeking Alpha

“Beyond books, our toys and games and gift merchants continue to curate and impressive selection of products that appeal to our customer base as reflected in the growth of these departments, which continue to outperform other categories. Toys and games in particular grew 16% on top of the 12% increase of a year ago.”

That’s clearly part of their future. The margin on those physical items is much higher, and there can be a very different experience in buying a game or toy in person (I also used to manage a game store).

That doesn’t mean that they’ve abandoned books, even if their regular bookstore core sales did drop a bit.

One of the events, on July 13th, will feature readings of all of

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

They say

“The read-a-thon will feature a variety of special guest readers, including authors and local celebrities…”

Note that it is  “local celebrities”…that’s important, and part of the formula for success. Here in the Bay Area, it wouldn’t surprise me if one or more of the Golden State Warriors get involved, for example.

The next day will see the release of what will be one of the big books of the year

Go Set a Watchman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

the first time published related novel to TKaM.

Okay, the obvious question for this blog: what about the NOOK?

It was terrible.

Device and accessory sales were down fully two-thirds for the year: 66.7%.

Digital content sales dropped more slowly, which makes sense…down 27.8% for the year.

Why does it make sense?

Even though people are largely away from buying NOOK devices, people who still have them continue to buy books for them.

As the devices fail over the next five years or so (or get lost/stolen or become severely outdated), those e-book sales and others will also decline.

Personally, I don’t expect NOOK hardware to come back strong. The e-books might find a market on other devices and other delivery systems.

The college bookstore sales (excluding new branches) were up 0.1% for the year…but  Amazon has started into that market, so that’s dicey at best.

You can read the

press release

for more details.

My guess? The NOOK disappears eventually, B&N stores stick around but morph into being less about books and more about other merchandise and events. That may be a threat to comic book stores…

In this

CNN Money chart

investors seem unimpressed…the stock was down 2.98% over the past five days.

What do you think? Will B&N survive as a brick-and-mortar? Can they transform into a Big Bang Theory friendly business…and should they? Will books continue to be part of their brick-and-mortar business…in a way bigger than they are in your typical comic book store? Will you go to their events (maybe James Patterson day on the 26th)? Whither the NOOK? Are you over B&N or would you be sorry to see them go? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #296: #givebooks, Echo general release imminent?

May 16, 2015

Round up #296: #givebooks, Echo general release imminent?

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

“Indie Bookstores Are Finally Not Dying”

I’m a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and I follow the world of e-books quite closely.

I’ve long said that independent bookstores have a place in the future.

There are a few caveats to that.

People have to like the experience of going there so much that they are willing to pay more money than they would pay at Amazon (or Costco, to name a couple of alternatives) just to support you.

That’s right: they have to willingly pay more.

Do people do that?

Sure!

We have to get our fence replaced.

Its’ been falling down for some time…oh, not literally falling, but leaning and in bad shape.

It doesn’t help that our two little terriers want to look out and see people…so they keep pulling a plank out of it.

Yep, the pair we call collectively “Butterscotch Chaos” (I say that’s their “band name”…and my Significant Other and I are roadies) actually can remove the plank.

They could easily jump through at that point, but they don’t.

Still, it’s not good to have a plank out, and I tried to get it to stay where they couldn’t do it.

I’m not at all handy, but I figured I could nail it to the two planks next to it.

You guessed…three planks out.🙂

At any rate, we need it replaced.

We are going to pay a company more than we might somewhere else, because we have used them before and like the people.

For one thing, they were totally cool with the idea of putting in a “dog window”…in fact, they said they had done it before!

We like them: we are willing to reward them for doing a good job and, quite simply, for being nice. My guess is that we will actually pay maybe a couple thousand more dollars than the cheapest other bid we’d be able to find (they are also doing a lot of yard clean-up…removing baby trees, trimming hedges, that kind of thing).

That’s what independent bookstores have to do.

They can’t beat Amazon on selection.

They can’t beat Amazon on price.

They have to win on service and on shopping experience…with an emphasis on the latter.

This

The Daily Beast article by Joanna Scutts

talks about the state of independent bookstores in the USA today, and specifically, about this year’s first “Independent Bookstore Day”.

There are several success stories in the article, and this quote from Samantha Schoech of Independent Bookstore Day:

“In reality more bookstores have opened than closed in the last couple of years in the U.S.”

I think generic bookstores (large chains, the “dinostores”) may be doomed (or at least, books will become a minority of what they sell), but bookstores with personality? They can survive.

Amazon readying general Echo release?

I’ve noted that the

Amazon Echo

product page is now indicating an in-stock date of July 10th (less than two months away).

They’ve shown in-stock dates before without it resulting in a general release…but they also aren’t doing the invitation route any more, so there really isn’t much of a reason to say it is “in-stock” for that group.

I just got an e-mail which seems like another strong indicator to me that it is releasing soon.

I was invited to make a video testimonial about my experiences with the Echo.

People who do have to have availability for an in-person interview from May 29th to June 1st.

The only likely reason I can see to collect video testimonials is to use them to promote the product (that’s made clear in the e-mail).

You aren’t likely to be promoting what you aren’t selling.🙂

By the way, I decided to go ahead and publish an embryonic page I’m making, called

Alexa says

If you are curious about the Echo’s conversational abilities, that should help.🙂

I’m guessing that before release we may see: the ability to play Audible audiobooks you own (that could be a licensing issue); the ability to control a Fire TV (and, less likely, a Fire TV stick); and possibly multiple alarms (maybe even recurring alarms, which would be nice).

There are quite a few other things we could see:

  • They could admit that you can text with it (you can do that now using If This Then That, but it’s definitely a workaround…you have to add something to your To Do or Shopping List)
  • Text-to-speech for books. One easier implementation I could see would be to parallel the “Alexa, tell me a joke” format. You could say, “Alexa, read me a story,” and it could give you a public domain short story. I think it’s less likely that we see text-to-speech with books you own that are not in the public domain, but maybe eventually
  • Movie times. Amazon owns IMDb which does that, so that makes it more likely
  • Shopping for non-Prime items
  • Shopping for items you haven’t bought before
  • Ad hoc travel times…you give it a destination verbally. Right now, you have to put in one route in the app
  • Firefly: Amazon’s song/video recognition. It wouldn’t be the visual recognition of objects, of course

Those just some things.

We could also see some very interesting third party apps.

Something I don’t expect is new Echo hardware before the end of the year. Some people think that will happen: I think it’s unnecessary. I think the hardware as it is is good enough for a first release…and that’s what we’ll have this year.

I also think they may limit the shopping part of it to Prime members, initially. That’s simpler, for one thing, but it’s also an inducement to get Prime.

Over $110 in free apps

I’m glad I started with a book story, because I just did an Echo story and now I’m going to one about apps.

That’s not the normal plan, but it just worked out that way today.

I have to do this one soon, because it is a limited time thing…in fact, it ends tomorrow (Saturday, May 16th).

Amazon is giving away a bunch of normally paid apps.

They do this from time to time…and there are usually some good ones in there.🙂

I pretty much get all the ones I don’t have. With apps, you can just store them in the Cloud, if you want: you don’t need to take up any memory on your device unless you want to use one.

Titles include:

  • Star Traders 4X Empires Elite
  • Bike Race Pro by Top Free Games
  • Bloons TD 5
  • Angry Birds Seasons HD (Fire Edition)
  • Highrise Word Heroes+
  • Cooking Dash Deluxe
  • SUPER WHY ABC Adventures: Alphabet
  • ShutterFolio
  • Rebuild
  • Time Mysteries 2: The Ancient Spectres (Full)
  • Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere
  • Empress of the Deep: The Darkest Secret (Full)
  • Mini Golf Mundo
  • Star Command
  • Angry Birds Seasons (Ad-Free)
  • Sorcery! 3
  • True Booster | Speed Cleaner
  • Smart Office 2
  • Photo Studio
  • Five Nights at Freddy’s 3
  • Game of Thrones
  • Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson
  • Genius Scan+
  • G-Stomper VA-Beast Synthesizer
  • Language Coach

and quite a few more!

The display of this is a little weird…I’m not seeing an easy way to get them all on one page, but it’s definitely worth exploring. They appear to almost all be four stars (out of five) and up, and some have more than a thousand customer reviews.

Little Free Library Book Drive on Saturday, May 16th

We have a Little Free Library in our neighborhood.

I think these are really cool!

It’s just a little birdhouse sort of thing that people build and put outside.

Other people put free books in there, and you can take whatever books you want.

Saturday is their third anniversary as a non-profit, and they are doing a book drive, specifically for children’s books:

http://littlefreelibrary.org/this-began-because-of-my-mom/

If you post a picture of yourself dropping off books with the hashtag, #givebooks, you might win something…but that’s clearly not the main reason to do this.🙂

I don’t usually give away my books, but I may look for something (or maybe buy something to give).

I won’t take a picture, though. Same reason I won’t do one of those video testimonials.

I’ve been on TV in the past, and used to go out and do more public stuff (radio and such).

Now, I like that we can be known on the internet for what we think and how we say it, rather than who we are physically.

That just means I don’t tend to promote myself as a physical identity, and that includes being in pictures.🙂 There is at least one photo labeled as being of me on the web which isn’t, so even if you do look me up, it’s not reliable.

If you want to post your picture doing this, or do a video testimonial for the Echo, though, I whole-heartedly endorse that! I love to see my readers get out there…those who want to do that. I also love my readers who prefer, like me on this blog, to be incorporeal.😉

Update: thanks to reader Susan Cassidy for a comment which helped improve this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

A bookstore just for indies

April 28, 2015

A bookstore just for indies

I’ve seen a lot of bookstores in my time.

From a mega-used-bookstore in San Francisco’s Tenderloin (Albatross) to tiny-hole-in-the-walls that specialize in just one genre to dinostore chainstores, I’ve spent a big chunk of my life in them.

Of course, I’ve got a bit of an advantage there: I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore.🙂

One thing I haven’t seen a lot in bookstores, though?

Independently published books.

Oh, I would have authors bring them to me in the bookstore and want us to carry them, but it just didn’t make sense.

One of the first things I would ask them was something like, “If I wanted one hundred more copies here tomorrow, could you do that?” The answer was universally “no”.

In a bookstore, you need that flexibility.

You are fighting three main things in a physical bookstore: rent; salaries; and “shrinkage” (shoplifting, employee theft, and damage).

If something is hot (maybe because the author appears on a local talk show) you need copies…now. Not a week from now, but right away.

Those indie (independently published) authors would sometimes want me to take a book on consignment.

That would mean that I wouldn’t pay anything for it unless it sold.

That seemed to think that would mean that I couldn’t lose anything by having their book on my shelf.

Well, I would.

I still had to pay for the rent. If that book didn’t sell for a week, I paid the rent for that space for nothing.

I still had to pay for salaries. My employees had to shelve the book, merchandise it (make it look neat…people don’t always put books back carefully), dust them, sell them, handle returns…the combination would of the last two would be particularly costly (and not just in money…if a customer really didn’t like the book, it could hurt our relationship).

There was still the risk of shoplifting (shockingly common in bookstores, at least in those days) and damage.

They also didn’t get that the traditional publishers generally guaranteed me I could sell the book. If I didn’t sell it, I could return it for credit. That’s not how consignment functions, but it can be pretty equivalent in terms of risk.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t want to carry indies…it just didn’t make economic sense.

That’s why I’m impressed with the idea reported in this

Publishers Weekly story by Judith Rosen

It’s about the

Gulf Coast Bookstore

which has a different business model.

What happens is that authors “rent a shelf” for three months for $60 (plus a $15 set up fee).

The authors get 100% of the sale price of the book.

It’s sort of like…having a “chair” in a beauty salon.🙂

I think it’s a cool idea, and it’s a bookstore I would like to visit.

I’m guessing that the owners have figured out their “nut”, what they have to make to make a profit.

Since they are fully booked at this point, I’m guessing they are doing okay.🙂

For that to continue, though, they’ll need to keep the shelves rented…and that’s going to depend on the success of the indies.

It’s a reasonable price point…but the authors/publishers also have to do the restocking. I’m assuming for most authors/publishers they’ll have someone else (maybe a relative) do that…you can’t do the “hustling” as an indie author if you have to go to the store every day to “face” the books (turn the covers so they face the customers, when there is room).

There’s more to the article, which shows that the owners have thought about this, and how to keep the store interesting. I recommend you read it.

I have to say, though, I don’t think I would enjoy managing a store like this.

I liked curating the collection. I liked recommending specific books to people. I liked the excitement of juggling what was on the shelves…moving something over here, putting this with that, see that constant shuffle of titles, and watching some rise to the top.

Still, I can see a market for shelf-rental locations like this.

One thing I didn’t like?

I couldn’t see a way to buy the books online from the store.

I get that it changes the nature of the relationship a bit to do that, but I don’t see a reason why that couldn’t have a more traditional set up with the bookstore getting a cut of each book sold. You could still make it that the publisher has to fulfill the orders…the bookstore would just provide a link to the books, and get…well, it would be an advertising fee, really.

Seems like that might be an additional factor which would make it more dynamic.

Bonus deal: three Fire tablets on sale

Amazon’s having a limited time sale right now on three Fire tablets:

I’ve seen people describe this as a Mothers’ Day sale…although buying the kids’ edition for your Mom seems…atypical.😉

These are good prices. The Fire 7 is the larger of the current models, and has a front camera and a rear camera (which mine doesn’t). However, mine does have Mayday (the almost instant onscreen tech help), and the Fire 7 doesn’t. That could be an important feature if your mother isn’t comfortable with technology. Many Moms are, of course, but some aren’t.

The Kids’ edition might be a good gift as we are going into the summer. It’s ruggedized…if you are going on a trip, that might be important. It could also make a great graduation gift…not from high school, but younger.🙂

I don’t know how long these prices will last, but enjoy!

What do you think? Would you go to a bookstore just of indies? Do you think those will succeed? If you are an author and/or publisher, would you want to try that? Do you see a franchise opportunity here? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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