BUZZING WITH IDEAS FOR INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLERS
Some challenging ideas, this from Publishing News:
Victoria Hunt reports from the Small Business Forum
MARKETING STRATEGIST DAMIAN Horner threw down a challenge to booksellers at last week's Small Business Forum in Oxford, organised by the BA. “Don't just think of yourselves as booksellers,” he said. “You're selling an experience: the romance of a book shop. That's what the consumer wants to buy into.”
He urged booksellers to avoid becoming “a watered-down Waterstone's” and to “be professional, but with a human twist.” On a practical note, he suggested selling subscription gifts for a specific genre, so the recipient might have a new thriller every month landing on their doormat. Other ideas included setting up a personal shopper service; offering wi-fi and desks for workers-on-the-go; inviting local art college students to design the window displays, and creating Amazon parcel collection points. “In times of pressure we must keep thinking and inventing.”
BML MD Jo Henry said that indies were in fact bucking an otherwise worrying trend. Between 2003 and 2006 sources of purchase by value have fallen 2% through chains and increased by 11% through independents.
Between 2005 and 2006 volume sales fell by 3% through chains and increased by 4% through independents Alastair Giles, director of Agile Marketing, stressed the importance of communicating with buyers. He cited Amazon's powerful e-mail database, which enables it to email its customers daily, and said that independent booksellers should not just wait for passing trade to step in. He believes it should be possible for them to obtain customers' email addresses and keep in touch with them that way.
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