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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Will We Learn from the Demise of Borders?


The big news among publishers and authors last month was the closing of Borders bookstores. It will be missed. But the truth is, this has little if anything to do with the economy. It has to do with innovation, the cycling of an industry—in this case the publishing industry—into something new. It also has to do with the tendency for most bookstores not to adapt. In fact, the tendency of much of the industry not to adapt...or at least not recognize opportunity when it comes up and stares us in the face, nose to nose.

I bring something unique to the publishing industry. Well, if not unique then rare. I am a writer with retail experience. Three decades of it. And this is how successful small and large retailers adapt to changing times.

  1. They get local. In the case of bookstores, they could featuring local writers to increase their profitability. I worked with Borders a couple times. It wasn’t easy going!
  2. They partner. In the case of bookstores, they can partner with local authors, combine contact lists and promotion power to get more customers in for special events and to increase loyalty.
  3. They listen to their customers. That might mean narrowing their focus to reach niche markets. Unfortunately large chains either refuse to do this pleading expense, but the successful large ones do. As an example, Walmarts buys different kinds of merchandise for stores in areas that have different interests and different needs.

The question for authors is how they can somehow make those bookstores  that remain (big ones or little ones) see that partnering with the “new” publishing world—meaning authors (regardless of how their book may be printed)--can help their bottom line.

See my comment on this article put out by Wharton’s school of business.http://knowledgetoday.wharton.upenn.edu/2011/07/bad-news-for-borders-and-for-publishing/. I’ve written about how authors and retailers of all kinds can benefit one another before.

It’s sad. It seems no one is listening.
PS: Among the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for retailers I've written is  A Retailer's Guide To Frugal In-Store Promotions: How-To Increase Profits And Spit In The Eyes Of Economic Downturns Using Thrifty Events And Sales Techniques. In it is a chapter on how retailers can benefit from partnering with authors for events. Authors, too, could learn something from it. The more we know about retailing, the easier it is for us to help retailers see the benefits of working with us.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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