Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Overpriced and over here

Christmas has well and truly hit us like, well, a large pile of snow which has slid off the roof after having shut the door too hard (not the best metaphor in the world, but - dammit Jim - I'm a bookseller, not a writer). You get the idea. Crockatt & Powell (those punk rockers of the bookselling world) describe the feeling quite well. We had an issue this week involving a US book, and it's something that I can't for the life of me work out. If we buy a US book from a wholesaler, they treat the dollar value as pounds, which would cause no problems if a) the Internet wasn't around to compare prices, and b) the pound wasn't currently trading at close to $2, which makes "doing the math" (as our US friends might say) a snap. Customer comes in, brings a book to the desk, sees $40 on the book and thinks "must be approximately £20". Oh no, our system says £40. Our invoice from the wholesalers says we bought it for £40 (minus our discount). A phonecall to the wholesaler says "we charge the full UK currency equivalent to cover the costs of getting the book over from the US". What? But it's Dorling Kindersley. They're a UK publisher (well, they were). And the book was probably printed in China anyway. How did you bring the book over from the US? In a sponsored canoe, one at a time? (My bonhomie has become slightly dented during the conversation) The annoying thing is - there's no way to spot a US book before we order it (at least, not that I know of in my time-challenged, customer-needs-it-yesterday, work-environment) So - anyone out there like to enlighten me (a very ignorant bookseller) if there is an explanation about why this situation exists, and tips on how to handle it? THE used to have an American Bookshop (operated on their behalf by Paperbackshop.co.uk) but it closed recently as being non-viable. Perhaps there's a clue there...

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the all the off-line communication on this (you know who you are). Very much appreciated. One more important lesson learned. We'll make booksellers yet...

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  2. Greetings from a Stockholm-based bookseller, also new to the business!
    In the midst of holiday chaos I've been going mad today looking for a book requested by a customer. His own words: "I'm looking for a book called something like 'blah, blah, blah and then you eat it'".
    It is NOT food related, it is apparently a novel. He has no idea about the story line or the country of origin or the author.

    All suggestions welcome!

    Mark and Nicki, your blog is brilliant.

    Best from Margaret at www.newyorkstories.se

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  3. Margaret,

    I don't know the answer to your question, but here is a poster involving the eating of books.

    http://www.cafepress.com/bibliobullpen.90568318

    Andy

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  4. Hey there Abingdon blogger! Like the site. How's life on Stert Street? Check out my own Abingdon blog at http://blackabingdon.blogspot.com/

    Hope you don't mind but I've added a link to your site on my blog. Happy blogging!

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  5. hi,
    just wondered if you used british or american wholesalers to get your us books? Ingrams are pretty good and you don't get that whole english wholesaler charging you £40 for a $40 book!

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  6. Hi Mark, Nicki and Andy!
    Problem solved...my "blah blah blah and then you eat it" customer came in today with the Author's name - Gerry Frank. He was looking for Gerry Frank's guidebook to NYC, called "Where to Find it, Buy it, Eat it in New York".
    We had a good laugh because this book is far and away my best-seller...and on his original visit I had cartons full in the back room!

    Ah well, live and learn : )

    Best,
    Margaret

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  7. Margaret,

    On another blog, I contributed a comment to a discussion of the weakness of organization among New York indie booksellers -- and I mentioned your store (7th comment on a really good post by the blogger, Jessica Stockton).

    http://writtennerd.blogspot.com/2006/12/comment-new-york-bookstores-need.html#links

    I think the concept of your store is brilliant.

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  8. OK Margaret - I'm going to get one in for the shop, and reference it as a bestseller in New York Stories!

    I'll let you know how it goes!

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