The Collegiate Nature of Bricks and Mortar Bookselling

One of the things I like about being in the bricks and mortar trade is the support the dwindling population of local second hand booksellers offer each other in my region. If a customer can’t find a book in our store we look to see if one is available on line and if it is another local we refer the sale or even ring and make sure the order is put through for our customer. Sometimes if someone is desperate to find a special book I ring around to see if there is one on the shelf at a local store that is not listed on-line and point the customer in the right direction. A couple of the other better established sellers hand out my business cards to customers too. When customers ring wanting to sell books we refer them as well. Though I am not sure that many of us are always THAT grateful for referrals of yet more books for sale. I do tell the customer they may also not be buying.

I am also happy to offer a dealers discount to other Bricks and Mortar bookshops here and overseas though I draw the line at giving discounts to online only sellers. (There might be a Bruce exception on that rule though) I think the reason I won’t is because Bricks and Mortars have invested some considerable capital into their businesses whereas anyone who has ever sold a book on eBay can lay claim to be a book dealer. The B&M also serves (mainly) their local community while the on-line seller is much more my competitor as I sell online too. In particular I will not give a discount to those data miners who take advantage of the fact that us Aussies can’t sell on Amazon and list our on-line stock there for 2, 3, 4 and 5 times as much as we are asking. No discount for you. And I do get so sick of being asked for a discount. I have a standard in store discount I may just have mentioned before. Spend $100 on used books and get 25% off. Asking for a discount is something I almost never do myself and it never stops being awkward as no doubt ‘a refusal may offend’.

By the way, my advice to Amazon only buyers who are looking at a high priced book that is only available from two or three mega sellers. Shop around! The book you want might be listed on or another fairly reliable online listing service for much, much less than the asking price on Amazon and the book you are ordering might just be coming directly from a bookseller on one of those sites anyhow. and are both good places to compare prices for out of print titles.

The other thing we B&M operators do is support our local traders so I try to buy local whenever possible and it very handy having a local butcher and Asian grocery store as well as take out places at our little strip centre. Still waiting on ALDI to go ahead with their proposed store out the back. (HINT HINT). I will do just about anything to avoid having to go to a shopping mall.
There is a nice sense of cameradie on the strip and it’s us against the big guys kind of vibe. We also like the local council workers; one of whom popped in today to offer to paint over my graffiti art but I said no, the boys that did it had permission and I really like it. Sadly someone decided not to observe the ‘code’ and has tagged over the artwork a couple of weeks ago.

I just had a note left that the artist has spotted the tagging and will be back to fix it. Nice to think he is keeping an eye on his work. Now if I could just get him to come INSIDE the shop and buy a book or two…..

Therese Holland
McLeods Books Nunawading

Therese Holland
McLeods Books
10 Station St
Nunawading 3131
ph 0398777214
open 7 days

3 thoughts on “The Collegiate Nature of Bricks and Mortar Bookselling”

  1. Therese, it’s good to hear that indie B&M booksellers in your part of the world view each other as colleagues. It’s one of the things I love about being a bookseller here in the Leelanau peninsula of Michigan. I’m with you on the discounts, too. I like to be the one to offer the discount, not be asked for it, and online-only sellers don’t generally get one. Now here’s a little anecdote you’ll appreciate: A woman who visits every year piled up over $100 of books on the counter (she’s not a dealer), and when I offered her a 10% discount she BEGGED me not to give her one! “I’m so grateful to you for being here, and I want you to stay!” Talk about making my day!

    • You offering the discount -exactly! And I agree very nice to have a discount refused because they want you there for the long haul.
      I also spontaneously round down $52 can become $50 and so on

  2. As an ‘online only seller’ I agree with the rules you have for discounts. Usually when I purchase a book online it is for my personal use and not for resale. I would never ask for a discount and I find myself offended when asked for one. I do offer them on occasion and I most likely would not refuse if offered by another seller.. I feel that is the proper way it should be done.

    If a ‘potential’ customer asks me, via email or through my website, for a particular book that I don’t have I search and send them the links to a couple sellers that might have what they are looking for. – I feel that trying to purchase a copy and having it drop shipped at a higher price to them is not worth the trouble nor would I remain in good standing with customers if they figured it out.

    Once a customer bought a book from me and asked about another. I found a B&M bookstore about 25 miles from her house that had it and sent the info to her. She was happy and reported the store to be a ‘must visit’ spot each time she goes that direction. I don’t feel I’ve lost a customer but I’ve gained positive name recognition from it.

    I’ve had a few times where people contact me hinting for a discount and I refuse to play that game. True I don’t have the same investment as a B&M store but I still have time and postage involved.

    Good posting once again Therese and Thanks for adding to it P.J. with your comment.

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