Great news for us book lovers–it seems that we can expect more books under the Christmas tree this year. Oh, yay!
Meanwhile, if you’re out buying books, make sure you’re comparing prices, because some retailers are actually setting prices above the recommended retail price (RRP).
Bookstore sales in November are better than last year’s
The Age reports that bookstore sales in November have exceeded last year’s numbers. Angus & Robertson has also said that their sales are up from last year. According to Chris Redfern of Avenue Bookstore, “books are seen as affordable and a reasonably priced alternative to high-end products.” The managing director of Angus & Robertson says much the same thing.
I don’t know about high-end products, but I’d certainly prefer a paperback romance by a midlist author than a random item of clothing which won’t survive an encounter with the dryer.
I wonder how the romance bookstores are going. I’ve read several articles that readers are expected to start moving away from misery memoirs in favour of happier reading fare to take their minds off the sad state of the economy. I wonder if that means Dymocks will put their romance books back in a prominent position, rather than relegating them to a wall that I can barely get to while pushing a stroller.
Borders and A&R are pricing some books above the RRP
I used to prefer Borders over Dymocks, but I’ve had a change of heart since reading this article in the SMH. Apparently, Borders and A&R are now selling some books over the RRP. Dymocks, as far as the article goes, still sells at RRP.
John Coote, Managing Director of Borders in A/NZ, justifies this as a way to recoup the costs of providing a “premium experience” for shoppers.
The RRP is set by publishers and is not binding. It has long been common practice to sell selected books below it, but until recently it was rare to mark above it. Angus & Robertson started the trend, initially with back list and slower-moving titles. Borders, which was acquired by A&R Whitcoulls in June, has joined Angus & Robertson in extending this [to] even new and popular titles
Now don’t get me wrong–I like to shop at Borders once in a while. Their range is certainly extensive, and their operating hours are very convenient. But as far as being an “experience”, I think it’s declined quite a bit in recent years. Yes, I can still sit in a corner and read a book all day, or pore over a magazine at the cafe, but to be honest, that’s the kind of experience I want in a library, not necessarily a bookstore. In a bookstore, I want to talk to staff who know about books, and in particular the books I love to read. (Mind you, my local library has those, too–I can’t say enough good things about our librarians.)
Getting a “premium experience”
In the past, I’ve been to Borders and Dymocks to check on new releases by J. R. Ward and Eloisa James, and have had staff tell me that the books hadn’t even been ordered yet, or that they would arrive in 6-8 weeks. That’s after the US release date. 6-8 weeks for the latest BDB novel? They have got to be kidding.
So now, I head straight to Galaxy for any new paranormal romances (they specialise in SF/F, and they have an entire wall and a blog for romance), as they often have new books in store before the official release dates. I know that other specialty stores, such as Rendezvous, try to get popular romance titles in store and out to customers as close to the release date as possible. The staff at both stores are also great at recommending books and authors to try–including being honest about whether or not they think I’ll like a particular book. I love that.
So if I were after a “premium experience”, I wouldn’t go to Borders for one of them, unless I need a break from shopping and would like to lounge around in air-conditioned comfort for a couple of hours. Or if I have $5 left in my wallet and all the time in the world. Mate, I can make that Gloria Jeans mocha last aaaaall day.
The real price of books
As far as getting my money’s worth… Well, I’m on the Borders mailing list, Shortlist, which gives me weekly discount coupons of up to around 30% off the full price of a book. That takes the price down to below the RRP, so it’s good value–assuming I remember to print out the coupon and bring it with me. Plus, Borders has a price matching policy–assuming I have a competitor’s catalogue handy.
Dymocks runs the Booklover Program, where I earn points for every purchase, redeemable for store credit. I think it works out to be a net discount of around 5%. I tend to use this more often by default, since I always have the card handy in my wallet.
The specialist romance bookstores don’t really try to compete with these schemes. I have a Galaxy card, which earns me points, but I’d have to spend at least $300 every 6 months to get any vouchers–that’s an average spend of $50 each month, and a minimum discount of just under 7%. However, they sometimes run events for members, and I’m told you can get good deals there (I haven’t managed to get to one yet). A friend of mine used to get free books from Rendezvous once in a while, as a thank you for being a loyal customer.
I’d love to know where you buy your books. Do you look for the best discount or the best service? And do you still shop at bookstores, or do you prefer to do all your book buying online?