Buy Where You Shop
Subject:   A tech booksellers opinion on having stock, new releaases, pricing and exclusivity
Date:   2005-07-26 12:44:03
Does anyone have any idea how much money it costs to STOCK books. Every book in stock is money spent by the bookseller waiting for the sale....

Also, Amazon would get new releases before us--how can we compete with that? (by most publishers)

Also, O'Reilly signed an exclusivity deal for the Magazine "Make" with AMAZON for the first month on a every 2 month periodical. So....we stand in front of our O'Reilly wall as a Team O'Reilly Bookseller and say "Sorry O'Reilly won't sell us Make for another month."

What happened to buy where you shop?

Also, the publisher assigns a price and sets the discount so our profit is completetly controlled by the publisher.

Our store,, ran in to that problem at the old (and out of business) San Diego Technical Books ( Too much inventory to keep the customer happy and not enough of it moving out the door.

We may have to adjust is our *need it now* attitude. We can get most computer books in 2 days so if it isn't in stock why not wait 2 days...

What is fair about all of this and how much responsibility do the publishers have in helping us compete?

My answer is A LOT.

There is very little profit in bookselling unless you have the capital to maintain inventory and warehouses like the chains do.

As the daughter of a technical bookstore owner it is more than just the browsing or the pricing. It is our family's survival and there is nothing more in the world that we want than a store full of inventory and customers but with the economy how it is and the publisher's passive complicity....

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  • Tim O'Reilly photo A tech booksellers opinion on having stock, new releaases, pricing and exclusivity
    2005-07-26 13:48:34  Tim O'Reilly | O'Reilly AuthorO'Reilly Blogger [View]


    I completely agree with your comment that it costs a lot to keep books in stock -- that was the whole point of my "buy where you shop" piece. Being able to walk around a store and look at books before buying them is a service that costs a retailer a lot to deliver, and the customer ought to be willing to pay for it.

    I think you're muddying the water, though, by bringing in the Amazon exclusive subscription window for Make. That may stick in the craw of brick and mortar booksellers, but we actually think it doesn't hurt you as much overall as you might think. Here's why:

    1. We are trying to position Make as a long-term keeper, not just as a magazine that disappears from the newsstand. So far, the results demonstrate that we were right. Issue 1 is still selling strongly -- as subscription starts move to issue 2, and now issue 3, people go back to buy the previous issues as a book. The fact that Make back issues have been book bestsellers demonstrates the validity of that strategy.

    2. Amazon committed a *lot* of marketing support in return for that exclusive. That has helped to establish the magazine as a success out of the gate, which ultimately helps everyone. What's more, Amazon was willing to commit to selling Make as both a magazine and a book, which was cental to our long term strategy. That willingness allowed us to bring other major players to the same position, which has enabled the long term book opportunity for everyone.

    3. The Amazon exclusive starts ticking as soon as the issue is released, which is the day Make comes back from the printer. Half of the thirty day exclusive is likely over before you'd likely have the issue in your store.

    This decision with Make was in the best interest of growing the success of the product. The fact that Make has grown so fast out of the gate is a sign that we made the right decision. Overall, we think the plans we've made to help Make succeed are good for booksellers.
    • A tech booksellers opinion on having stock, new releaases, pricing and exclusivity
      2005-07-27 13:51:04 [View]

      Thank you Tim for responding. O'Reilly Media, out of all of the publishers, have been the most kind to us in our struggle to stay in business. When we first called about the exclusivity on Make we weren't turned away OR given a pat answer but were compensated and treated like an "Amazon" rather than a 1,600 sq.ft. indy bookstore on the rocks! :)
      You can imagine though it was just embarrasing for us.

      I also understand that a store like ours may not have the broad reach Amazon has nor the abilities for subscription services.

      My main point was to educate the customers that as an independent there are many reasons why things are the way they are and that often is the case that we just don't have control. We want stock, but money is tight. We want the new releases just as quick but a 3 book order doesn't stand a chance against a 10,000+ book order in expediance. We want to discount but can't compete with a online retailer who most likely makes NO money.

      We are proud to sell your books and very happy with O'Reilly. You folks send us new releases hot off the press and provide cute :) animals to decorate our store!

      Most of my comments are in regards to other publishers that bloggers might buy.

      Just you responding so quickly shows your support for us and reinforces our importance in the book world. I am just nervous for my family and may have flown off the handle. My Mom and Dad have been selling technical books since the 70's and you can imagine as they approach the retirement age with our situation being so unstable, that every little thing is magnified by our fear of having to close shop and apply for regular day jobs.

      We appreciate everything you do for us Tim and your staff responded to us as you would have (and did here) regarding Make.

      Best of luck and keep the good books coming!
      • Tim O'Reilly photo A tech booksellers opinion on having stock, new releaases, pricing and exclusivity
        2005-07-27 21:31:52  Tim O'Reilly | O'Reilly AuthorO'Reilly Blogger [View]

        Kate, I really understand where you're coming from. It's great to see you getting involved in your parents' business. It's one of the best technical bookstores there is, and I hope that we're still working together to get books to the people on the cutting edge till I'm having this conversation with YOUR kids.