Friday, July 22, 2011

HOW MOST BOOKSELLERS DO SPECIAL ORDERS

The public is often so incorrect (i.e., wrong) about the way business is done that you have to figure they are wrong about many other things, most of the time. This DOES NOT mean that business isn't wrong either, more than you think. Take a look at the Murdoch publishing empire. Even if Rupert didn't know what the heck was going on (and going wrong) you can bet his son James did. But if you back up some years you can figure the "old man" did his share of "naughty stuff" because example begets example. This is why it is so important to know who you are dealing with and their character.

To have everything in chess there is, on hand, is a bad business model. I know, I came close to it years ago when we carried foreign chess books too (in 1998 we had about 2600 different things!) I only carried about 3 different clocks at any one time. Some of them were horrible.

The "ideal" business model is one that keeps generating good income without having to change anything. Today that no longer happens. It's not enough to have green and white chessboards, they now come in a half dozen different colors, most of which DO NOT sell. There are mousepads too. There are smaller boards. Does anyone make a good, affordable analysis set? NO! Even manufacturers, once they "give" you choice are averse to change. Once they have a so-called winner, innovation takes a back seat.

The picture to your upper right is the latest issue of Chess Informant 110, which just came in, along with my stock of 109. I'll be sending out "autoships" this weekend. Has Chess Informant adapted to change? I can say they have tried. They do CDs, different size openings encyclopedias, Best ofs, etc. but they are in a rut. Probably their best product is still the Informants themselves! They do not control all the draws which are played and which creep into  the analyses but they have them. Sometimes those draws are "ideas" which didn't pan out. (More on Kasimdzhanov's NEW proposal at a later date.)

Since a "smart" reseller can't possibly hope to have EVERYTHING how are special orders dealt with? If you don't have a decent-sized order going to that publisher at the time, the alternative is to order it from somewhere else at a smaller discount. Such places as Ingram and Baker&Taylor provide this service. My problem with B&T was that I would get 33% of my order! Even they didn't keep their stock up to date (or have everything) and they had many huge warehouses across the country.

I still hire myself out for chess or book consulting work. If you want to know which way to jump, or how far to stick your toe in the pond, give me a ring (563-271-6657). It will cost you something, but only a fraction of what it will cost you if you do something the market doesn't warrant and you end by spending zillions trying to make what YOU think is perfect for readers (who don't want it for various reasons) and it isn't.

But in my experience most do not want to "hear" bad news, they would rather receive it privately when no one else is around. Often these folks perceive themselves as "objective." Objective sells nothing, you have to rouse the intellectual and emotional nerves of the buyer or everyone would own a red car.

Contact: bob@thinkerspressinc.com

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