Come on…… Let’s Talk November 6, 2017 – Posted in: Books, Thoughts
David Gaunt, from GleeBooks, talking about what Amazon means for the Bookselling industry recently made this comment “… we connect writers and readers, and there is nobody out there — nobody — who could do it more intimately and profoundly. If you want to discover a new great voice, you have to come to us. By the time you find out about that author on Amazon or in the mainstream media, you’re just jumping on a bandwagon. The train has already left the station. You’re welcome to jump on board, naturally — the more the merrier! — but we’ve already found the Next Big Thing.”
Okay so the next big thing doesn’t come along every day but when it does the Bookshop is certainly the best place to find out about it. A great recent example must be Nevermoor, by Jessica Townsend. In the bookselling world, we saw the wave of fans coming before the book even hit the shelves, we knew it was going to be a hit from the moment we started reading it and we were talking about this fabulous new author long before the book was available. The customers were hooked and the publicity hadn’t even started really. Oh yes, it is still one of our favourite books this year but more importantly, we were telling you, our customers, right from the start, not letting you miss out on what everyone is talking about and you already know about it.
So yes you may get wonderful emails from Amazon and others about well-known authors that have created a long-term reputation with known storylines and characters but what about when you’d like something new. A tale that sparks the imagination in a way a tried and the true author can’t do as effectively. Well not true if your Richard Flanagan and willing to take a chance with your readers but a lot of authors give us what we want when we pick up an established author, familiarity with a spark of something new.
Yes, we talk to you. We understand what you love or your friend loves and we find that gem that you may search for hours online to find. It simply amazes me how much time, even myself, wastes looking for things online. Sometimes having all the options at your fingertips can be too encompassing and time consuming to look through. Say for example you need a book for your artist friend. You’ll start looking through the Art Genre in Amazon or wherever. You get a list of books on Art History, Art Film, Art Photography etc and next thing you’ll know that you’ve spent over an hour wading through these books trying to find the perfect book and be more baffled than you were before you started. That’s okay, we have all been there and I know how easy it is to become entrenched in the offerings of online shopping. So instead you walked into the bookshop, approached our desk,or we approached you and before you know it we have asked you 2 or 3 questions about your friend and your thoughts for the gift and we can identify a recent, art book that is perfect for you.
The joy of shopping in a REAL shop, seems so obvious that I question why we have stopped. Why has the internet made such an impact on our lives? Don’t you realize that these big companies like Amazon are regulating our shopping patterns? We are being served up options that make “them” more money and offer “them” the best returns. They have so many options that you can’t possibly sift through them all, so by serving up the most profitable first, they are encouraging us to only buy certain items. So believe it or not these companies are controlling our shopping and eventually we will be buying only what they suggest. You’ll never know about the new fantastic author that recently released a masterpiece until it is worthwhile to their pockets. We all have short attention spans when it comes to the internet, so the options we are offered are preselected for maximum chance of getting you to purchase. An unknown author with a terrific new story does not come up very strongly on the preselected items list. If you’re interested in reading more about this I suggest you read “The Four” by Scott Gallaway. This is a very insightful book on what our future looks like when the power of modeling consumer behavior is in the hands of Four companies with very large bank accounts. Extremely scary but truthful.
So where does this leave the lonely Bookshop, well frankly very lonely and ultimately closed? Do you want to talk, do you want to interact and find out the book gems, do you desire the community connection we are all looking for. Don’t let the bookshop die off, it is not right for a shopping stripe that has always enjoyed a culture of bookselling to lose that. You have a hand to play still in the way our shopping behaviours occur. Don’t give that hand up to powerful internet companies, keep your choices open and keep talking to us. We need you to make take a stand for local shopping to survive.