Friday, March 14, 2008

New Bookstore Practices

Joshua Bilmes, a literary agent, ponders the ramifications of the new Borders concept store:
One part of their revamped approach was to stock fewer titles, allowing a higher percentage of those fewer titles to be displayed. And now today's Wall Street Journal reports that this experiment was so immediately successful in increasing the # of books they actually sold that they're in this for the long haul. All of their stores will start to have fewer titles, with more of them faced out, with title count reductions in the 5-10% range, with the genre fiction section perhaps seeing a smaller reduction than some of the non-fiction categories.
Here in the Philippines, the leading bookstore worked with the same business model in mind for the past few decades. And you know what, that's probably what made their business so profitable (that and selling school supplies) and what catapulted them to the #1 spot in the first place.

As a consumer however, I don't want to see the local bookstores "regressing" into such a state. Not that they're operating on a different business model. For the most part, I think Fully Booked and currently, to a certain extent, Powerbooks, is trying out the "wide-selection" model. As for the rest, namely National Bookstore, A Different Bookstore, and what's left of Goodwill Bookstore, they're operating on the principle stated above. (Booktopia is too small an operation to really adopt either to a noticeable effect.)

The reason why I dislike the "narrow selection" model here in the Philippines is because we can't really order books online, at least not feasibly. I mean when the shipping costs end up being more expensive than the book itself... (And I've looked at other alternatives so here's a hint: if you must ship a book from, try Amazon Japan; it's closer to home and they have English language support.) And currently, my tastes have gone the "really eccentric" route and authors I name will probably bring about question marks, even among local SF&F fans (no, Banzai Cat, you don't qualify; you're queer too).

Still, it's an interesting experiment to see how it'll work out in the US.


magicnoire said...

Basically, what's going to happen is that it'll be harder to find midlist and debut authors with little publisher backing on the shelves.

Not like that's not already happening or anything. This will just make it more noticeable.

banzai cat said...

Aw, thanks for your concern. ;-)