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When Wholesale is Not the Best Price

Frequently, bookstores larger than ours are part of programs which allow them to sell books to customers below the wholesale price. Unless something is in the back of a clearance bin, I don’t make a practice of buying from other stores, but recently realized that sometimes, I am being played by my suppliers.

I noticed on Monday that we were out of stock of Choose Life by Stormie Omartian, and happened to remember that the Canadian supplier was running a 46% discount on her selected backlist. Today, that book is available to customers at a Hamilton bookstore at 50% discount. Next Wednesday, the discount on this “Dutch Auction” special jumps to 60%. I’m sure there are many other stores which are part of this particular promotion.

During the last few weeks, I have made an extra concerted effort to buy all I can from this particular supplier, knowing as we all do that with stores in major cities closing, they probably need every sale they can get. But despite this, I find myself today moving back to the position I’ve taken earlier in the year of making them an absolute last resort.

There’s no fixed pricing.

Every dealer (and here I want to add ‘but me’) is getting a different price.

Your volume determines your discounts; as it always does in this industry. This is something I consider a bit of a slap in the face from distributors who then have the nerve to sell “What Would Jesus Do?” products. Jesus would give the guy buying five units the deal, and tell the guy buying 50 that he can probably live with the standard discount.

I just don’t want to be a part of something that isn’t more standardized, practicing more of what I would call fairness. For that reason, I don’t go to this supplier’s industry events anymore. Frankly, I think it would be totally hypocritical of me to sit down to lunch and eat their food. The sharing of a meal has spiritual significance to people in eastern cultures, and even though I’m not actually at the table with the employees and owners, I am in fact sharing their food.

I just can’t do that. I can’t have spiritual fellowship with people who are so busy doing backroom wheeling and dealing with the top 15 bookstore accounts that they think the rest of us, the bottom-feeders, are totally oblivious to what’s going on.

It’s frustrating also because I was just warming up to the idea of using this supplier more frequently, even though they are actively selling into my market. I had softened. I was willing to surrender the fight. And then I was reminded why I was offended in the first place. The total inconsistency on pricing.

…If I can walk into this store next week and as a retail customer get 60% on a book that I’m only being given a 46% discount as a wholesale customer, then I would say something is serious warped.

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