Friday, January 19, 2007

Rockwell is the Place to Be

Let me say it now: there's only one reason why I go to the Rockwell Power Plant Mall--because of Fully Booked.

It's also surprising how many chains Fully Booked has. Nine (counting Bibliarch, Sketchbooks, and Montage) is listed on their web page. If it's just books you're looking for, however, the Rockwell branch is the place to go. It's huge and has a wide selection. It's like if I combine all the other branches, I'll end up with the selection of the Rockwell branch.

Of course along with the good news is the bad news. I honestly don't know how Fully Booked sustains itself. National Bookstore I can understand--it's being subsidized by its school supplies. Powerbooks, while its main income is really through books (as far as I can observe without being part of the industry itself), it is partially subsidized by National Bookstore in the sense that its shipment of books arrives with National's. And as most importing businesses will tell you, shipping costs can either make or break you. The second reason for Powerbooks's sustainability is sheer volume. Honestly, Powerbooks doesn't have a lot of variety. What it has are multiple copies of several best-selling books. I don't like it but if I were running their business, I'd probably do the same.

Now Fully Booked has a diverse selection. I applaud them for that and it's the reason why I keep coming back. They don't have volume though (at least for a book patron like me who roves around the SF&F section). With the exception of certain books (i.e. the mainstream and popular ones), most likely the copies I see on the shelves are the only copies they have (which I'm assuming by then has been distributed to their other branches as well). If I'm lucky, a few more are hidden in what I call the "stock shelf". But that's it. That's why I have a must-buy-now mentality when it comes to those rare SF&F books (and why finding the Elric series of Michael Moorcock for example is rare). It just hit me at how long Fully Booked can sustain this, especially with the previous "failure" of its short existence as Page One (which is another story). Unless there's a change in the way they do business (which probably means less diverse books and is a shame for book lovers like me), I don't see how it'll continue to be profitable in the next two years.

Of course sometimes, sound business principles isn't needed. If you have the money to throw away, you can thrive by the sheer face of outliving your competition. We're in the Philippines, we should be familiar with it by now.

P.S. I forgot the original reason for this post. No more Moleskine notebooks! At least the functional ones. No more ruled notebooks that are oriented horizontally (there's still a few copies left of the squared notebooks and the reporter variant).

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