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Ordering Nuances – How to Buy Wisely

  • We all want younger customers to come to our stores. “Buy for the customers you’d like to see;” is how some people describe it. We also want to encourage next-generation authors. However, the target demographic is the very demographic that either buys online or has embraced eBooks. This is a situation that requires very cautious, finely tuned ordering.
  • I don’t care how well the initial product did, it doesn’t assure you that the spin-off products are going to succeed. Usually, it’s the first product that keeps on selling. Healthy skepticism is required. The general market is wiser at recognizing that everybody gets their “15 minutes of fame,” but usually it’s only 15 minutes.
  • If the item retails for $29.99 U.S. — I’m thinking of the Harbinger video — but an online vendor is selling it every day at 47% off there are two things at play here: (1) It’s possible that the list price is totally meaningless, and is artificially created knowing full well that the product would then be deeply discounted online; and (2) It’s crazy to carry items where your online competitor can do you the most damage. Just say no. Or wait for the price reduction.
  • Your greatest successes are going to occur when you find titles that are flying below the radar nationally, but for which you have seen demonstrated local interest, and are able to generate more local interest. We did this with Leona Choy’s Life Changing Power of the Holy Spirit (actually bringing the print edition back to press) and John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One. A few years back, we were the only Christian store in Canada to order The Kiwi Bible from Penguin and actually did a re-order on this several months later.
  • There was once an adage in Christian retail that while the general market was 80% frontlist and 20% backlist; the Christian market was only 20% frontlist and 80% backlist. That ship has long sailed — whoever coined it long gone — however, we need to recognize that one of the distinctives of Christian publishing is the longevity of our backlist and perennial titles. But publishers need to be more upfront about when a title is merely a repackaging, when it’s an updated edition, and when it’s an old book appearing with a new title.
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