When talking to people at trade shows or looking to break into an account that has never purchased bargain books before or does not have a discount book section in their store, I find there are certain opinions or obstacles that need to be addressed to convince the potential buyer of the benefit of bargain books.
What I hope to do in this blog is examine seven of those myths or misconceptions about bargain books (in no particular order) and also dispel some of the concerns that a new buyer might have. I realize that many of you who read these blogs don’t need to be convinced of the value and benefit that bargain books add to your business, but I hope you will still enjoy this article and maybe you have a couple more thoughts you want to share about how bargain books have helped you. Please take a few minutes to add a comment and let’s get a conversation going about the great benefits of a value-priced book!
1. Front-list sales will be cannibalized
This is often a concern we run up against when trying to convince a bookstore owner about the value of adding a bargain book section to their store(s). From speaking with many successful book retailers around the world, I can honestly say that this is not the case—what it actually does is enhance your front-list offerings. Let’s face it; books are expensive (especially new books!). Many of your customers might only be able to afford one or two when paying full price, but when you can add some bargain books at great value, especially if they’re located close to the cash register as customers get ready to pay, what you will find is that you can get those additional sales. Or maybe there is a category that is starting to get soft. Cookbooks immediately come to mind as a good example, as there has been a decline in this category for several years now because of the wealth of recipes available on the Internet. My opinion is that many customers are not inclined to spend $30 or $40 on a cookbook anymore, and maybe you are struggling with whether or not to give these books the space they once held in your store. But perhaps a value cookbook priced just right in your bargain section will hold some appeal.
2. Bargain books do not support authors
My last point sort of rolls into this next misconception, which is that bargain books do not give royalties to authors, so as a matter of principle we should support authors by not selling bargain books. The fact that bargain books do not supply royalties to authors is true, so I cannot refute that argument. However, I do believe bargain books still can strongly support an author, just in a different way. I think this relates especially to the up-and-coming author who is looking to be gain a foothold in an industry that is more and more driven by the bestselling authors. The “A” authors have their large book contracts and are doing very well, thank you very much. For the small authors who are just trying to “make it” and no one knows about them, though, maybe someone will pick up a bargain book along the way because it is a good deal and they feel they can take a chance on it. If that person falls in love with the book and becomes a fan of that author, my guess is they won’t wait to see if they can find another bargain book by that author; they will gladly pay front-list price for the next one.
3. Bargain books are dated
I want to move through the rest of these points a bit more quickly, as I realize your coffee is probably gone after reading my first two points! It is true that bargain books are not new releases and publishers do age the books before releasing them to the secondary market. However, over time the publishers have shortened that span up and the books are coming to us much sooner and very much while they are still relevant. There will always be some dated product in the mix, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how much product is pretty recent and still very relevant to your customers.
4. Bargain books are tattered and dirty
This is a point that I can only speak to from our company’s policy on what we sell. You might very well have bought bargain books that arrived in unsatisfactory condition, but I would challenge you to give Book Depot a chance to change your mind. We inspect all our books carefully for damage and do not send out anything that is dirty or tattered. And if you are not happy with the quality of the books you have received, you can contact our customer service department and we will make it right. What we sell are not “brand new” books, as they have been on and off shelves and in and out of boxes a few times. But the quality of the books is still high; we stand behind what we sell and take pride in how we pack and ship our books.
5. There is little profit in bargain books
I could go on for a long time about the profit margin of bargain books—it really is worthy of an entire blog. What I would like to briefly say is that there is great margin in bargain books. They are low-cost but provide big returns. If you buy wisely you can turn over this product fast, create a buzz in your store over the great deals, and double or even triple your money on them. Our core customers have been doing this successfully for many years now and have even remarked to us that while new book sales are a break-even proposition, bargain books bring in the profits. For such a low cost to get into, why would you not give it try?
6. Selection is limited
As of last week I was informed that the title count on our website is sitting at over 70,000 unique titles! We have books in just about every category and genre and access to product from almost every major publisher in the book industry in North America. Selection has never been better. If you have not looked through our website to see what is available, I would challenge you to pour yourself another coffee (or glass of wine, depending on when you are reading this) and be prepared to get lost in the sea of great books that are available to you.
7. Half the order is not filled
Regarding order fulfillment, I can only speak to what Book Depot will promise you and not what your previous experience may have been. This can be a common complaint of booksellers who have tried buying bargain books in the past. If there are not accurate controls in place to manage inventory, often those desirable books that everyone wants can end up being oversold, leaving the affected customers unhappy. Because we are not publishers that can just print more books to fill the orders, we have to work with the inventory we have knowing it is finite and make sure we sell accurately. We have worked hard to create systems that accurately show what we have at any given time and when you place an order, your amounts are removed from our inventory and allocated to you so product cannot be oversold. Our website reflects quantities in real time, and we even track our fill rate on our web site. Coming through Q3 of 2017, our fill rate is just below 99%.
I hope this article may have answered some question or concerns that you have had about bargain books and I encourage you to add your comments below, or if you have any further questions please reach out to us so that we can be of service to you.