A Commentary On Price Wars On Bestselling Books
We love books, we promote books, and yes, we sell books. Our mission statement is to deliver to our customer an innovative approach to bookselling that recognizes the love of books that resides in all collectors.
Now this may seem like a trivial point, but we sell books because we love books . . . not the other way around. From this vantage point we do not discriminate between blockbuster titles by bestselling authors and the new author delivering his or her first novel. In fact we rely on the new author to fuel the excitement that brings our customer back to see what’s new.
This year we have brought you Abandon by Blake Crouch, Crush by Alan Jacobson, A Quiet Belief in Angels by R. J. Ellory, and The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny, just to mention a few. These are all noteworthy books that would normally get lost in the big market stores who use their clout and buying power to push more James Patterson, John Grisham, Michael Crichton, and other mainstream titles at us in attempt to gain or secure market share.
Similarly, NY publisher editorial staffs select for publication those authors and titles that fit this limited view of “what will sell,” driving market trends rather that listening to what the reader really wants to read. The result is a “dumbing down” of literature, and we end up with what I refer to as “airplane reads,” books that get read and thrown away.
For the record, we also rely on big selling books to provide us with the capital we need to offer a broader selection to our customers. Sales of those big books allow us to comb through the hundreds of new titles each year and bring understated, infrequently advertised quality writing to your attention. Michael Connelly was unknown when Little, Brown introduced us to Harry Bosch in The Black Echo, and John Grisham sold A Time To Kill from the trunk of his car to independent bookstores across the south. We believe that tomorrow’s hottest authors are now residing in the new release flyers we send to you twice a week.
A lot of talk is spreading throughout the industry, outrage over the predatory pricing being used by Wal-mart, Amazon, and Target to gain a larger share of the market. Unfair practices by these behemoths threaten the future of bookselling. They can sell books either below their costs, or through backroom agreements with publishers, to bring customers to their stores to buy other products that they offer. “Loss leaders” are not new, but this goes beyond such practices. They are robbing the small independent bookstore of profits necessary to enable them to bring the full range of titles worthy our consideration to their shelves.
So we are asking you to refrain from buying these two or three books from the superstores. Please buy these titles from your local independent bookseller. Reward them with your business and they, like us, will guarantee you more to choose from in the years ahead.
All best wishes and good reading,