Monday, January 03, 2011

The Third Day of the New Year...

Today I got confirmation of what I have been expecting to hear for weeks now. The book shop which I work for is to be sold. The book trade universally has been taking quite a beating – books can be sourced from so many different places and in so many ways that one no longer has to rely on the bricks and mortar shop front to buy from. Our Christmas trade was way down – not only for us in the book trade but across the board – retailers were slogging it out trying to catch the eye as well as the dollar of the paying public – hence the mad sales that were evident leading up to Christmas and beyond.

The book industry however has been doing it tough for a number of reasons and as booksellers we could see the writing on the wall as the one shop after another faltered. Even one largish book chain is rumoured to be in deep trouble...

Our store is part of a franchise which means although it comes under a larger banner it is privately owned – in essence- much like your corner milk bar. Our boss while he was optimistic initially that we could ride it out, has seen disappointing sales put an end to that. Try as we might we cannot compete ultimately with overseas online companies which can deliver books to your door in some cases with free delivery and at a much cheaper price... Nor can we compete with the department chain stores that sell their books at a loss primarily because they know that once over their threshold you will more than likely buy another unrelated product. And let us not forget the ipad, e-readers and other book delivering devices. These hold x amount of books are more convenient than bookshelves and according to their fans are "just, more well... more convenient!!!" Let's hope the power doesn't go out for any length of time or they drop it in the bath...

Ironic really, we hear so much about creating customer loyalty, achieving excellent customer service etc but when push comes to shove no one is really all that interested in how well we do our job and what our knowledge base is - as long as we do it the cheapest price...

How do I feel? Sad for the most part – our boss had a dream and it has evaporated – not because he wasn’t delivering an excellent product or that he didn’t have the support and expertise of a great staff but he was the casualty of a greater war and sometimes one has to know when it is time to walk away.


What is the future? For me it is unknown – I guess we are all hoping that someone will step forward and take over the ownership – if that doesn’t happen then it will be only a matter of time before the doors close...

The publishing/book industry I believe is undergoing a metamorphosis of sorts. Yes, I believe that books will survive - whether bookshops in their current form do - is debatable. My wish is that somehow, that somewhere in the future a child will take delight in a real book - (one that has a cover that opens, pages to turn and a smell that only a new book has) which was recommended by a person who too delighted reading it as a child and works in a bookshop because of that love, the adventure and pleasure that books and reading brings...

1 comment:

shakatak66 said...

Oh no, sorry to hear that - fingers crossed you will still have a job at the end of whatever happens (although by the sounds of it over Christmas you may not want it anymore LOL).