I find it somewhat rare these days to get genuine defective DVDs and CDs. So I asked the customer to wait a few minutes while I connected up the DVD player and scanned through all 25 cuts of the DVD his friend had returned to him as defective; which he was trying to return to me. My store DVD player isn’t the greatest, so if there’s a problem, it will find it. The songs seemed to play through fine, however I did promise to exchange it next time around if his friend insisted it wasn’t working 100%.
Then I walked next door to the printing company located next to my store. In my hand was a book which had been somewhat mis-bound, to the point where several sections of the book were also not trimmed, rendering it completely unreadable. This is a large printing operation employing a number of people, and I was directed to operator of the large cutter — I call it the guillotine — and he trimmed off the top 1/4 inch of the book; something this title’s cover design allowed us to do without it being noticeable. In less than 20 seconds, I walked out the door with a book in perfect condition.
In less than five minutes, I saved the necessity of a couple of returns and saved the environment at the same time. My good deed for the week.
It’s not a question of what or a question of how. It’s a question of why. Publishers are entice readers to make the switch to electronic readers by dangling free books, which one assumes are royalty-free. It’s a deal that sellers of print can’t match, unless the same publishing industry is willing to give remainders away to stores in return for a committment that the stores will do the same. And the contingencies of shipping alone make that impossible. When does competition become unfair?
With a number of Christian based titles already in release under the Faithwords imprint, and numerous inspriational titles at Center Street and Walk Worthy Press, one is tempted to ask out loud why Hachette Book Group (HBC) felt the need to add a fourth imprint, Jericho Books, to the list.
The key possibly lies in the second paragraph of the release, below:
NEW IMPRINT FOR NASHVILLE DIVISION
(Nashville, TN) Hachette Book Group is pleased to announce the launch of a new faith-based imprint called Jericho Books. Jericho Books is an imprint of the Nashville Division of Hachette Book Group and will be led by Wendy Grisham, who will serve as Publisher and Vice President.
The mission of Jericho Books is to seek new, innovative authors who reflect a growing change in the church. These non-traditional voices will appeal to the fresh perspectives in today’s culture and provide an avenue for those exploring political and social issues as they relate to faith.
Non-traditional voices. Who are the current “non-traditional” voices? One might think of Brian McLaren. Or Donald Miller. Or… oh yes, Rob Bell. Methinks all the energy generated by Love Wins have caused HBC execs to say, ‘Hey, there’s a market here waiting to be tapped for greater potential.’
Think about it. We have Love Wins earning reviews, discussions and debate both online and in major media. It’s the biggest thing in Christian publishing since The Shack. And equally controversial. Did Bell’s book pave the way for more “non-traditional” titles to launch? Timing is everything.
The first title releases summer 2012.
…or what is sometimes called “padding.” This is a BookShopTalk reprint from April, 2009…
It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly 35 years since I’ve been around, in, and up-to-my-neck in the Christian bookstore business. In that time, I’ve heard people talk about “padding” an order in two different ways:
- The first involves the situation where a salesman leaves your store and sits in his car and makes a few changes to your order; changing a “5” to a “6” on one item, and a “6” to an “8” on another, and adding a couple of copies of that item you weren’t sure about. This is a major ethical no-no, and it doesn’t happen often, but some store owners have stories
- The second involves the case where you need one or two items right away from a supplier, but you need to fill out the order either to meet a shipping minimum, to spread out shipping costs over a broader number of items, or because you don’t want them to think that you haven’t sold any of their products since the last order, even though that may be true.
It’s the second one I want to consider. When orders are being spread around a larger number of suppliers, you may find you need something ordered right away, but don’t have anything fresh to add since the previous order. Here are some thoughts about order padding that you do yourself:
- Many online retail sites allow you to sort by publisher, and then resort by demand. This will give you an idea of what’s moving out the door nationally and you can see if there’s some major title or trend you’re missing out on from that supplier. Or check the sites from some of your fellow-retailers here in Canada.
- That “one” that you’re ordering demonstrates that there is demand in your local area for that product. Could someone else want it also? Maybe a lot of our “ones” should be “twos.” (But not all, you need to know when you’re seeing the tip of the iceberg, and when you’re seeing the whole of the iceberg.) At least consider the possibility that this could be a core inventory item in your area.
- Does this supplier have other lines that you haven’t tried before?
- Are there some items with low dollar value that you can use to pad an order without it hitting you hard 30 days later?
- Do you have a “wish list” of products that you keep for rainy-day situations such as this that you can add to an order when you need to spread out freight costs?
- Are there other titles by the same author/artist you are rushing in? Or in the case of music, does the item come in other formats?
- What about the category as a whole? For example if the item is a grief/consolation title and it’s from Augsburg, they are strong in this category and might have some other items to suggest.
- Find out if the supplier has any phone or fax specials currently running that you’re not aware of.
- Recheck inventory levels using supplier best-seller lists. The book and music business is historically a “chart” business. If your suppliers don’t have fresh bestseller lists easily available, insist they start doing this.
- Ask your staff. There may be something you’re overlooking, or a staff member may have just told a customer, “We don’t buy from that supplier that often, so I’m not sure I can get it in next week.” Obviously, combining your rush order with their rush order changes things.
Some of you in larger stores may not get this issue; but for the rest of us, what other suggestions do you have for “filling out” an order when the situation arises?
Yesterday in a comment, Brian left the link to this must-see infographic on Publishing in the Digital Era. I was especially interested in the following data as to why some individuals are reluctant to make the switch:
…you can’t afford not to be fully committed to large print!
Call it a clash of two publishing cultures. The new edition of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life is an old-school softcover print edition printed on paper the way books have been for hundreds of years. But it’s also designed for Smart Phone users who are familiar with the practice of taking scans of the QR codes that appear in the daily newspaper in order to access additional content. (We actually saw an election sign with a very large QR code for phone users to scan as they drove by.)
There are 40 such codes in the book which unlock 2-3 minute videos containing new insights from author and pastor Rick Warren. The new edition, at $15.99 U.S. is releasing immediately from Zondervan.
The logo shown at right differentiates between enhanced and non-enhanced book editions. The QR sample above takes you to a Wikipedia article about the technology.
In the early days of my personal blog, when I saw a book I liked, I simply pulled it off the shelf at the store and took it home; effectively purchasing it. I got to choose the books I liked, and got to review then without feeling I “owed” the publisher anything, including the obligation of publishing my review on a certain date.
Then, a couple of years ago, I got seduced by the offer of free books and, realizing the blog may have a lifetime that extends beyond the life of my store, thought this might be a way to make sure I’m always connected to the industry — and thereby the books — that I love so much.
Fast forward to spring 2011. The system isn’t working. Promised books aren’t arriving. I haven’t actually reviewed a book at Thinking Out Loud for at least 60 days, and I’m not currently reading anything, while at one site for bloggers, some individuals with a tenth of the readership of this one have apparently helped themselves to as many as 60 or 70 books. From that publisher alone.
And that’s while you, the people who actually sell the books and make the whole thing happen rarely — if ever — see a review copy.
So I’ve decided to go back to the old system; have my business pay for the books, and review the books I want to when I want to.
BTW, why hasn’t the Christian music industry bought into the need for Christian social media to help sell product? I’ve never seen even the most influential blogs do a CD review for product from any of the major companies. Never. What do they know that the publishers don’t?
As someone who purports to offer all kinds of advice and counsel and industry news to everyone else, you’d think my stores would be models of “how to do it right.” Right? In fact, you’d probably be disappointed. The two Searchlight stores are both full-service bookstores and Christian book outlet stores. In Brockville, we’ve kept an organized appearance, but in Cobourg, there are books piled up in the aisles, sometimes blocking lower shelves. I’m not proud of it. More customers would certainly help.
So I was somewhat heartened to see this New York Times business section article suggesting that the clean look is out and clutter is now acceptable again.
Selections from the article:
…After the recessionary years of shedding inventory and clearing store lanes for a cleaner, appealing look, retailers are reversing course and redesigning their spaces to add clutter.
…“Historically, the more a store is packed, the more people think of it as value — just as when you walk into a store and there are fewer things on the floor, you tend to think they’re expensive,” said Paco Underhill, founder and chief executive of Envirosell, who studies shopper behavior.
…Wal-Mart is realizing the same thing. It has dismissed or reassigned the top executives who came up with the cleaner-stores plan, and a new group of executives is adding items — and a little bit of mess — back to shelves. Still, Wal-Mart says that it is not totally repeating the past and that the stores are easier to maneuver than they were years ago.)
Click this link to read more; it’s a two page article, be sure to read the second half.
By bidding on Ebay, your store could own original handwritten lyrics by Chris Tomlin or the David Crowder Band’s Keytar. Or you could just own them personally!
EMI Christian Music Group’s Chris Tomlin, David Crowder Band, Audrey Assad and Josh Wilson are among the artists joining the label’s biggest stars, including The Beatles and Katy Perry, in donating exclusive personal items and memorabilia to the EMI family’s charity auction for Japan earthquake and tsunami victims.
It’s rather hard to be in retail and not be aware of the comic strip of the same name by Norm Feuti (pictured at right) which appears in daily newspapers chronicling the adventures of Stuart, Josh, Cooper, Marla and Val; and their lives both inside and outside of the fictional Grumbel’s department store. And yes, he knows us all too well because he worked in retail for 15 years.
This past week, Retail got out of department store mode and dealt with something a little closer to home, altering the name of the big box bookstore in question to Bookers. While hopefully nobody reading this is currently in receivership mode, the following customer attitudes are simply all too familiar. To link to the Retail comic website, click here. (If your local daily doesn’t carry this comic, a call to your editor might make a difference!)