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bookshop changes rant

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JumpingJack
62370.  Tue Mar 28, 2006 7:26 pm Reply with quote

Beehive

Thank you for your helpful corrections.

I'm sorry I didn't see the newsletter advertising the 'Richard and Judy' nature of the 'book club' thing. I assume this was tongue in cheek to some extent, but it must be good that everyone is encouraged to read something...

As far as I'm aware, shelf titles have altered from time to time. In my view, though, they have never been altered enough. The Stephen and Alan selections were a harmless and popular bit of fun, for example, but they were never really built on.

As for DVDs, the Complete Blackadder Collection (of which I was the producer) sells hundreds of times better than the QI DVD. Just selling that single title alone would probably push the shop into profit.

You know that I'm more than happy to talk to you about any of this. The shop has never been my responsibility (apart from making general suggestions right at the beginning and providing a list of my favourite books) but I would love to know what you think.

 
laidbacklazyman
62386.  Wed Mar 29, 2006 2:48 am Reply with quote

I'm a little confused by this. I cant understand why someone would think it makes sense to reorder a book that doesn't sell. I'm also not sure why you would think it strange to include a book that has been sent unsolicited into your stock. Ok it's been a few years since I have been involved in bookselling (I left at the same time as the NBA seeing the effect that it would have on small booksellers) It was always in that time that you would sell any book that came through the door. The number of free books I have sold on to booksellers doesn't bear thinking about. You need to keep your stock turning around but the wholesalers and publishers now have you over a barrel unless you are going to order in high volumes which doesn't seem feasible in this instance.

You do need to move things around regularly to make sure the reason that people aren't buying a particular itwem is because they don't want it, not simply because they don't know about it, A subtle movement promotes browsing.

I also cant see, when it comes to selling books, what is wrong with Richard and Judy. They use their programme to promote books in a way that interests the people that buy them which is a good thing. Ok so you may be aiming a little higher in the bookworld through the QI book clubs but it is still the same thing under the surface.

Good luck with the changes hopefully you can make it work.

 
JumpingJack
62415.  Wed Mar 29, 2006 6:09 am Reply with quote

Thanks lblm.

One thing I can say is that the new staff behind the till (a mixture of volunteer members, management and staff seconded from the rest of the building) are all having a whale of a time.

I love books and I think bookshops should be fun. This does not, of course, mean they cannot, at the same time, have a deeply serious intent.

 
Gray
62438.  Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:42 am Reply with quote

[I've just moved this topc in here from 'General Banter' and replaced its duplicate. Which was here. You know what I mean...]

 
Jenny
62542.  Wed Mar 29, 2006 12:44 pm Reply with quote

Advertising doesn't have to be expensive if it's local, and most of the customers who actually walk into the shop will be local. If you've got the budget to produce flyers to promote a particular event, those can be posted free in a lot of places. If you have a book group, you can post notices about it in the local colleges or even in the local libraries.

A full-page ad in the Oxford Mail costs 1020, a quarter page ad 430 and a half page ad 620. They also do a leafletting service, though their website doesn't tell you how much that is - if it falls within the bounds of reasonableness, that would get you into every household in the city, though you don't normally get more than a 5% response at best to such a mailshot.

Are there any local organisations you could specifically target, who would be natural QI viewers? Schools, I have to say, would probably not make any profit for you - book budgets are tiny and they tend to go for discounts. (I speak as the former Education Adviser for Penguin Books in the UK here...) But you could, for example, send an invitation to the members of the Oxford Architectural and Historical Society to come for an evening to browse a display of books you happen to have in stock about local history and architecture, alongside which there are also other fascinating books for sale. Free coffee is an added attraction of course, and if you happened to couple it with a talk by a certain well-known historian you would certainly get some interest :-)

There are plenty of other local societies with particular interests that might be catered for by existing stock, so you wouldn't necessarily have to buy in huge quantities of unsaleable books.

Clubs and societies in Oxford can be found listed here: http://www.oxfordcity.co.uk/oxford/home_community_clubs_societies-2.html

You probably have books relating to faith and religion in your stock, so why not invite local churches to an event, perhaps focused on a talk or a book presentation by some well-known local theologian - Oxford is probably bursting with them and at least one of you probably has one as an acquaintance.

With all the comedians you lot know between you, could there not be a comedy event of some kind?

Why not target regular customers and encourage them to keep wish lists? This could be done as simply as a card index file, or could be done online or at least on the bookshop's computer. They can then send friends and family to the shop to buy birthday or Christmas presents that they really want. Records could just be kept under a name, or under a phone number - very easy to find on an Excel file.

Are all these suggestions completely useless or already tried or already rejected?!

 
dotcom
62626.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 2:48 am Reply with quote

I love the QI bookshop, and I'm sorry if it's not my place to say anything here, but maybe the new shelves will be helpful because on the few occasions that I've visited the bookshop, I've always felt not-quite-clever-enough to be there.

 
Gray
62631.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 3:43 am Reply with quote

Of course you can say what you like here, dotcom. :-)

I think (and hope) that the bookshop makes everyone feel 'not-quite-knowlegeable-enough', but certainly shouldn't make you not feel clever. The books there are the best of the best - the product of thousands of years of thinking. The idea is that one accepts one's ignorance in the face of such brilliance, which is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, and just launches into what's out there, hungry for enlightenment.

In fact, just recognising your ignorance is the most important part of the journey towards wisdom. And 'cleverness' (whatever that is) will rub off on the way I've always thought you can only catch cleverness from people...

 
Beehive
62818.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:43 am Reply with quote

Gray wrote:
The books there are the best of the best - the product of thousands of years of thinking.


Which is why, lblm, I don't like putting unsolicited books into the stock- they are usually appaling, self-published, spiral-bound affairs, or written by religious cranks, or both. They're out of place in a bookshop which trades on the idea of having selected the very best books.

Dotcom- I never felt clever enough to be there either!

 
JumpingJack
63148.  Fri Mar 31, 2006 3:02 pm Reply with quote

Dotcom's point is a good one. For what it's worth, the bookshop makes me feel ignorant and unread, too.

For that reason, it's important that the layout of the shop, the titles of the shelves and the general attitude of the staff is as welcoming and un-off-putting as possible.

It's not so much about changing the stock, but about changing how we bring it to people's notice.

 
laidbacklazyman
63160.  Fri Mar 31, 2006 4:28 pm Reply with quote

Beehive wrote:


Which is why, lblm, I don't like putting unsolicited books into the stock- they are usually appaling, self-published, spiral-bound affairs, or written by religious cranks, or both. They're out of place in a bookshop which trades on the idea of having selected the very best books.


I didn't mean that you should sell everything that comes through the door but to dismiss the sale of samples is a bit romantic. As I said it's a few years but when the freebies used to come to me there was always a brief synopsis that gives you the an idea of, in my case where to try and sell the book, or in your case whether to sell the book without everyone in the shop having a read.

 
benosborn
63360.  Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:10 am Reply with quote

JumpingJack wrote:
Dotcom's point is a good one. For what it's worth, the bookshop makes me feel ignorant and unread, too.

For that reason, it's important that the layout of the shop, the titles of the shelves and the general attitude of the staff is as welcoming and un-off-putting as possible.

It's not so much about changing the stock, but about changing how we bring it to people's notice.


I completely agree that this is the best way for the shop to survive, I'm just here to remind you not to lose sight of what made it great it the beginning.

 
QI Individual
65137.  Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:45 am Reply with quote

To generate more interest in the shop I'd think that the right kind of local/regional advertising would indeed be a useful first step. I would not go for big and bright but for small and subtle but continuous. Like small ads a few times a week (e.g. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday or perhaps even daily depending on the cost) on a fixed and fairly prominent place in the newspaper with a QI fact of the day similar to the ones on the QI homepage. With intriguing, amazing or funny QI facts that people after a while would tend to automatically look for in the same way as they look for the comics or the obituaries. Always inviting the reader to the bookstore of course with an additional short stimulating, quirky, enticing text. If you do it right then after a while the paper might even actually want it as a feature.

I couldn't resist thinking up a few lines. Maybe you'll like some of them.

- You can let your curiosity run wild in our QI bookshop. (or...)
- The QI bookshop is the place to unleash your unbridled curiosity.
- If you enjoy flexing your thinking muscle come to our QI bookshop.
- You'll run the risk of seriously enjoying yourself in our QI bookshop.
- We may not house the fountain of wisdom. But at least a fizzy tap. (sparkling tap)
- If you bring us your acres of curiosity, you may leave with the seeds of wisdom.
- Our books may have answers to questions you didn't even know you had.
- If you want answers your first question should be: "where's that QI bookshop?"
- You may drink from the fountain of knowledge or only gargle. Just don't spit.
- Your mind may be hungry or thirsty. Check out the books on our menu.
- Addicted to books? The QI bookshop has the fix.
- Want to know which books you'll want to read? You'll want to visit the QI bookshop.
- Don't know the answers? You'll find the questions in our QI bookshop.
- Are there stupid questions? At the QI bookshop we don't even ask that question.
- Have you SEEN the books in our QI bookshop? Well why don't you?
- Read any good books lately? Come and tell us at the QI bookshop.


It would make sense to do the ads in the form of a QI factoid accompanied by a web link to the QI website but perhaps better to one more directly linked to the bookshop ( www.qibooks.co.uk and www.qibookshop.co.uk both still seem to be available - you might want to register those - and the hyphenated varieties) where they will find additional information plus links with regards to the QI factoid-ad and of course much more about the bookshop that will make them want to visit it. A further link to the on-line bookshop and QI website goes without saying. Or if the space in the ad would be too small to put the QI factoid in just ask a QI question that makes people wonder about the answer and point them to the website for the answer. Certainly not always though. There are still plenty of people without Internet access.

Just my two cents.

 
barbados
71519.  Fri May 26, 2006 9:09 am Reply with quote

Can I ask, does the bookshop hold mass market or general trade paperbacks? Would you for example stock a copy of Book X? from faber and faber or the latest Harry Potter from Bloomsbury?.

I'm just curious really

 
Beehive
71639.  Sat May 27, 2006 12:53 pm Reply with quote

Yes, we do- the vast majority of our stock is from mainstream suppliers, though a significant proportion isn't. And we do sell the latest Harry Potter. We tried not to sell the Da Vinci Code, but someone ordered eight for their book group (we had to keep them hidden under the desk...)

 
barbados
71677.  Sun May 28, 2006 1:53 am Reply with quote

Thank you

 

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