Tuesday, 15 September 2009

I have a cunning plan...

Try this on for a cunning plan...

You have a struggling business. Profits are down. People are spending their hard earned elsewhere. Then you find a new product. This product is not just popular, it will sell in the millions. Let me repeat that...it WILL sell in the millions. Name your price and people will tramp through your establishment all day, every day for weeks, perhaps months to get their hands on it.

This is your chance to make some money, right? Your chance to shore up some of the losses of the previous year and perhaps to give you a buffer for the next year or two. Suddenly, everything in the garden is not just rosy, but the roses have had their thorns clipped.

You buy in advance units and stock your shop from floor to ceiling and wait for the deluge. But wait...there is one more thing to do. Why don’t you take the recommended price and half it? You buy it from the wholesaler at a certain price and then you discount that and sell it on. Yes, you don’t make ANY money from it at all. What a most excellent idea. The business will last for ever with a plan like that.

WTF? Have you lost your mind?

Well, yes actually we have. The business plan I’m talking about concerns the UK book trade and the product mentioned is the new Dan Brown novel The Lost Whateveryoucallit, which as I write is quoted by Reuters as breaking first day sales records apart.

The same thing happened with Harry Potter. Guaranteed cash. Yet the booksellers fell over themselves to discount it. I had a friend in the trade who realised it was cheaper to buy it from Asda rather than from the wholesaler. Nuts.

And don’t get me started on the big supermarkets selling books. Okay do....they see huge bestsellers like Dan Brown as a “loss leader”. People just LOVE to pick up books like The Lost Thingummyjig for a fiver while they stack their trolley full of chicken breast, tin-foil and pot noodle, dontcha know.

Do you love books? Do you like to have a choice in the authors you buy? Do you like to see new authors coming through now and again? Do you enjoy browsing in that special atmosphere that only a bookshop can provide? If you have answered yes to these questions then you would probably rather tidy your pubic hair with a blowtorch than buy your books from Asda or Tesco.

But if you are one of those people who are ruled by their wallet, please think on it. Because if the public continue to use their supermarket for their literary thrills in greater numbers, we will be reduced to a world of a dozen A-list authors re-writing the same book over and over again for fear they will be dropped by their publisher and the only new authors to be published will be her or him off the telly with the big tits/ hundreds of lovers or some sorry guy/ gal who was battered by their father, ignored by their mother and shagged by the family pet.

I'm almost tempted to go buy the Dan Brown in Asda, but I have to go look out that blowtorch first. We're talking jungle foliage.


  1. It's sad that people would rather look for a book bargain than support those who write the books but it seems to be human nature to hang on to their pennies. What boggles my mind is that major bookstores themselves have joined in -- 40% off is one price I saw -- and apparently don't seem to care what the practice could ultimately do to the industry.

  2. We need to spread the word, Careann to all the book lovers out there.

  3. So right.

    I was irritated to see CNN give Dan Brown credit for his 'original' premise about the masons and all the secret symbols, etc. etc. when actually Brad Meltzer came out with Book of Fate based on it about four years ago. And there was probably someone before that.