Saturday, June 04, 2016

In Bookselling, a Modicum of Inefficiency Is in Order'

Shelf Awareness

"If we were to seek counsel from consultants, they would advise on 'efficiencies' and 'best practices'. If we adopted them, we would only carry titles that sell well on the principle that a book must earn its spot on the shelf--its 'real estate'--by 'turning over' or selling multiple times a year. This is good business, and a model that will lead to a strong bottom line....

"To this end, allow me to quote Jonathan Lear, esteemed philosopher, director of the Neubauer Collegium and longtime Seminary Co-op member. 'Of one thing I am certain: as soon as a committee insists that the Seminary Coop adhere to "best practices" we are at most one generation away from the institution's demise. "Best practices" is the third to the last thing the Seminary Coop says before giving up the ghost to If the Seminary Co-op is to survive into a new generation, if it is to flourish, it will, among other things, have to have many books on its shelves that no "best practice" would ever allow.'

"Inefficiency has its place. In raising children, in most artistic endeavors, and in bookselling, a modicum of inefficiency is in order."
--Jeff Deutsch, director of Seminary Co-op Bookstores in Chicago, in a letter this week to members and friends titled "The Future of the Co-op: A Call to Action." The response was "extraordinary."

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