Musings on the discounting of books.
Although new to the retail side of the book trade I have been a lover of books for more than 40 years, from the days of my local bookshop in Scarborough, Hardings, to the advent of shelves full of books in supermarkets.
Since we opened the shop it has baffled me the whole situation of books being discounted heavily on day 1 of their release. Where else can you find a flagship product at 50% off upon its release (if ever!)? What does that say about the perceived value of the printed word and indirectly education (we all learn something from ANY book we read)?
I will hold my hand up and admit I have bought books from (insert supermarket chain here) but would like to defend that by saying that for at least the last 8 years we had no local bookshop to be able to support. I understand the lure of the cheap paperback, indeed we have customers who have admitted that they have bought the odd “3 for a fiver” selection, but they were paperbacks and were usually bought as catch-up reads ready for the next/final in a series, or books that were then passed on rather than kept. Honestly, I kind of get that, in much the same way I get the wonderfully fickle nature of book lovers who, while they may have their favourite bookshop that they like to support, still can’t walk past a bookshop when away or in a new town. I do love the fact that some of them feel a little bit guilty! Heavens knows it was the same with me and the only reason I don’t buy these days is I own a shop! (Does that mean I am being hypocritical because I’m getting it cheaper... discuss!)
However, the idea of taking the biggest product(s) of the year and being able to let everyone have it for less than most of the industry can buy it for, on the day of its release, is totally and utterly preposterous. Not only does it make little to no business sense in the long-term (unless we have taken the turn down which Double Glazing and sofas have gone and have never any intention of selling anything for the price it is advertised at), it doesn’t make sense to alienate and price out of the market 800 retail outlets!