In his cutting-edge blog Write It Forward www.writeitforward.wordpress.com, popular fiction author Bob Mayer www.bobmayer.org postulates some important points about the future of publishing. His question “What’s the first thing you walk into now in a B&N?” made me stop and take a mental revisit of the last time I walked into my local mega book “Store” (not using the store’s actual name for now). Mayer rightfully comments on the shelves of major brick and mortar book stores being filled with things other than books and the hardback best sellers have taken a back seat at the front door to ebook reader kiosks.
This echoes my own experience this past weekend when my husband bought an ebook reader. While the sample station set up with four competing ereaders was located directly in front of the café, we had to walk through several feet of displays offering toys, candy, action figures, and calendars to find it. The ereader kiosk was completely surrounded by t-shirts, coffee, mugs, and games. And not one employee approached us to guide us through any questions involved in making a triple figure purchase in their store!
We decided on the Velocity Cruz and since the one we could touch and handle was bolted to the table, we assumed we needed employee help to buy one. Nope. Just go to the checkout counter where they are under lock and key. The cashier tried to sell us a two-year warranty plan with a flimsy protective case and did not offer to let us take the ereader out of the box before purchase, just pushed the warranty deal which we declined. Two hundred dollars and some odd change later, we marveled about being basically ignored by the entire store even though we felt like we had just made a major investment. Not that we wanted applause or anything while leaving the store, but some customer service would have been welcome.
The next day I received an email from the “Store” that the Velocity was now on sale for thirty dollars less than we had paid less than 24 hours ago. Grrrrr. I appreciate that book stores are clinging to the printed versions but with the nod to dismal sales nationwide, stores closing right and left, and discretionary income more than lazy about coming back to life, I expected a more positive experience during the purchase.
Meanwhile, my husband has been like a kid with a new toy. Being an IT guy, he has pushed, pulled, clicked, downloaded, researched, and READ several books in just a couple of days. But he hasn’t downloaded anything from the “Store.”
By the way, we were suitably impressed that the book teaser installed on the ereader was a Brenda Jackson romance Irresistible Forces. At least they know what sells. How many ereaders does the consumer have to buy for stores to embrace the future of publishing?
Interesting–I’d agree, for dropping a couple Benjamins, one would think at least someone would work with you. This is a decision I’m going to be making in the next year with a couple of my stories coming out in ebook form, so thanks for the input!!
Very good blog. The lack of interest of the sales people in the store is very disappointing. You would think they would be keen to sell a “new toy” expecially an expensive one.
eReaders are evolving. Just this past week B&N came out with a color Nook that is priced about 100$ more than the other Nook, but a lot less than the iPad. However, this new Nook is designed to compete with the iPad.
As publishing and bookstores adapt to technology, we will see things change lightning fast. As Bob predicted, a lot faster than originally thought.
I just got a Kindle and one of the first books I added to it was my own! I’ve been in a couple of bookstores lately and see more toys and games than ever and many YA shelves. Mystery, romance, and sci fi are relegated to the rear. It’s sad.
Well said, Liz. One would think brick and mortar stores would work harder to attract customers. I do get coupon offers from Borders and B&N, but once you’re in the store, you’re on your own. One of the reasons, I’m guessing, is that they have cut staff to economize.