I just saw the order form for one of the two Christmas catalogues we’re doing this year. It’s one we haven’t done in awhile, and I approach this one with fear and trembling. (We had one once where we made an executive decision to dump all the flyers into the recycling bin.)
Every single thing is on sale. I went through the first page line by line and wrote in a number representing the dollar reduction on each title. Some were 5s; some were 3s; there were a few 2s. Those of us in the business are price-sensitive, but not all customers are. The kind of counter-marketing we need to win back the online customer isn’t done in this type of circular; it offers the discounts, but doesn’t hard-sell them the way online vendors do.
Furthermore, I’m not sure we should be discounting in the last quarter. At all.
We’re in a survival mode, and the customers who will come to us will buy a book whether or not it’s $13.99 or $15.99. We’re simply giving away margin.
But that’s not what this is about. My problem right now is that I know all the information about titles going on sale. Heck, we just ordered all this stuff. Why would I want to order it again? (The form says the initial order is due October 1st, but I will be away from the office until Thursday.)
So what do I do when a regular customer walks in and wants to buy Product ‘X”? Do I say, “You know, if you can hang in for six weeks, that item is going on sale” or do I simply write up the sale and smile, and then ponder the consequences when they see it for $5 less in six weeks?
The problem is, Christian booksellers are too honest.
Somehow, I wish I didn’t have to know all this information. I’m holding it back from my frontline staff, but eventually, I’ll have to put them in the loop, especially when Product ‘X’ starts arriving. I guess, I purchased it innocently, not knowing it would be offered cheaper, and now I have to expect my customer to buy it, not knowing it will be offered at a lower price.
It almost creates two classes of customers; and the “early bird” is actually being penalized. Furthermore, since I am putting a ‘hold’ on regular stock purchases of items that are about to become sale catalogue items, I’m creating the potential for inventory gaps leading up to the sale; this in a small store that prides itself on various aspects of superlative service, one of those aspects being having a good in-stock position on items likely to be requested.
Plus, there’s a few items that just didn’t sell the first time out. A book we purchased at 46% off is now being offered at 50% off for the sale. We had no movement on our six copies, so we’ll just have to take a hit on existing inventory. To order more would be foolhardy; throwing good money after bad. In some cases we’re being asked to reduce something by $3, but only being given about 80 cents extra discount. Do the people who do these catalogues on a more regular basis than I — and in much higher purchase volumes — never challenge this?
I think in the final analysis we’re not married to doing the flyer; we just like the idea of doing a catalogue; of having a classy piece to put in customers’ hands that will end up on their coffee tables.
The catalogue itself is a pain in the neck at a time when we need to maximize margin and return-on-investment.
Due to the constraints of alphabetical order in my new releases section, David Platt’s commentary, Exalting Jesus in Matthew, is next to the new Duck Dynasty title.
This one is so unique, I think I might forgo the credit and keep it as a collector’s item.
You know how sometimes you get books with pages out of sequence? This one has pages from another book entirely. It’s a copy of The Thorn by Beverly Lewis and at one point inside it jumps to become the opening pages to Know Why You Believe by Paul Little.
The cover and the rest of the book are Bethany House product, the inside part is an InterVaristy Press title. Seriously, not even the same publisher. And the paper stock is different.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever received at your store?
In a way, the last two children’s videos in the What’s In The Bible series may have been the most challenging to script. How do you get a kids video out of the Pauline Epistles? Apparently with a lot of help from some consulting theologians and children’s ministry experts, plus an extra dose of kid-friendly inspiration. And the word is out that the 13th, and yet-to-be-released finale based on the Book of Revelation was even more challenging, but contains some explanations that adults might actually find useful, too.
What’s in the Bible is a product of the incredible mind of Phil Vischer, original creator of VeggieTales. I’d encourage you to have all twelve of the existing videos on your shelves!
Readers of the fiction products most of us sell will appreciate this recent comic panel at Rhymes with Orange by Hillary B. Price:
Canada’s largest book retailer, Chapters/Indigo is offering customers in the greater Toronto area same day shipping on parcels up to 4 lbs, if the order is placed by 12:30 PM, and the customer is willing to pay a $13.95 premium for the service. The company is one of four working with Canada Post on the program which is called Delivered Tonight. The others are Walmart.ca, Best Buy and Future Shop. Cutoff times and customer charges vary with each company, at Walmart the service is being offered free until Christmas. At Chapters/Indigo, the program is called Quick Ship. For its part, Canada Post pledges to deliver items between 5:30 and 9:00 PM. In the U.S. companies like eBay and Amazon have similar programs in “densely populated cities like New York and San Francisco to deliver everything from groceries, toys and flat-screen TVs.” Canada Post will decide in the first few months of 2014 whether to expand the program to other markets.
- with files from The Toronto Star (9/17/13, print edition) and Chapters.ca
This has been out a month now, and is admittedly biased, but is still worth sharing with your staff or even key customers. Video runs 10 minutes.
This one-and-a-half minute book trailer not only promotes the book Prayer Warrior by Stormie Omartian, but it adds devotional content to your store’s Facebook page, which your customers will appreciate.
A not-so regular customer. He phones to ask the price on an upcoming music release. I tell him to remember if he’s price-comparing to the U.S. that our Canadian inventory has buy-5-get-1-free coupons which, well-played, could be worth up to $4 each, and explain that the same loyalty we hope customers will show us, is the same loyalty we show to the company that issues the coupons.
But each time he shuts me down and keeps going back to the U.S. $12.99 price. I again explain that he’s comparing apples to oranges, and that often, the Canadian list price works out far better when you apply the coupons.
But he’s sick of hearing about coupons, and finally tells me, “You don’t understand, I don’t want five copies of the album, I just want one.”
While I don’t normally duplicate stories that are carried at Christian Retailing, I’ve had a number of emails and other off-the-blog comments about a story late in the week concerning the announcement that Tyndale Publishing House is going to provide marketing and fulfilment services for NavPress. The decision means that twenty-two of twenty-nine employees — or 75% of the staff — at NavPress have had their positions terminated. Publisher’s Weekly carried while Christianity Today linked the story to 40 layoffs at another Colorado Springs employer, Focus on the Family.
In a world of mergers and acquisitions, Tyndale can offer NavPress, a ministry of The Navigators a greater efficiency brought about by economy of scale. But in many ways, it reduces NavPress to a type of virtual publisher. Nav offers Tyndale access to Bible study material the latter has never had. It also means greater synergy for Bible sales, as NavPress has The Message while Tyndale is home to the New Living Translation. Both represent the leading edge of more modern Bible translation. NavPress continues to retain its autonomy and ownership of its catalog.
The CR article cites “Tyndale’s well-regarded marketing prowess, sales talent and operating platform.” The CT article notes that NavPress, “closed two magazines and laid off nine employees in 2009.” All the articles, including PW, noted that “This kind of alliance is part of Tyndale’s history. For 20 years, it has had a similar partnership with Focus on the Family, another Colorado Springs-based ministry organization”
The first product shipment under the new arrangement will commence with the Summer 2014 quarter’s titles. Conveniently, both publishers are represented in Canada by Foundation Distributing in Orono, Ontario.
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I found this report a few days ago at the blog Marketing Christian Books, an online resource primarily serving independent authors. I think both the report highlights and the analysis are worth reading. Please give the writer some well-deserved traffic by reading this at source where it appeared under the title The Good News: Growth.
Every year, Bowker publishes the U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Report. The complete report is very price, about $800. However, Bowker is kind enough to give a few highlights from their report each year in their news release announcing the availability of the report for purchase.
Information for the report is culled from the Bowker Market Research consumer panel of almost 70,000 Americans who bought books of any format and from any source in 2012. This year, Bowker’s report included growth, growth, and more growth.
This is good news for the publishing industry. Some of the growth areas cited by the report are:
- The number of books purchased online in 2012 grew to 44% of all book purchases, up from 39% in 2011.
- The number of print books published grew 3% in 2012 to 301,642 titles.
- Bowker estimates that approximately 3% of books bought by Americans were by self-published authors (making up about 8% of ebook purchases).
- eBooks continued to rise in popularity, accounting for 11% of spending in 2012, compared to 7% in 2011.
- Women increased their lead over men in book buying, accounting for 58% of overall book spending in 2012, up from 55% in 2011. Women aged 30 to 44 are the biggest book consumer.
- The slowly improving economy is slowly improving the climate for purchasing books. By the end of 2012, 53% of consumers said the economy was having no effect on their book buying habits, up from 51% at the end of 2011.
All this is good news for publishing—especially for small publishers and independently published authors. Consider the implications:
- Online retailers sell almost half of all books. That makes it easier to sell your books. It is now more important to have your books available through online retailers than through brick-and-mortar retailers. Of course, having your books available through both is still best, but if can only secure online retailers, you are still in the game.
- Print books continue to grow. So, if you sell print books, don’t despair, they are still being made and purchased, meaning you can still sell your print books.
- Knowing that women dominate the book buying market is important. This knowledge allows you to adjust your marketing efforts accordingly. Market to women (even if your book is for guys) because women buy books not only for themselves, but for other people too.
- Despite the slow growth in the economy, people are still buying books. This means that if you develop your audience, you will reap sales.
Growth: Make this word your motto and strive to grow your book sales.