The consensus was that whatever is happening does not bode well for the industry. But it is the industry that is doing it to itself! They are all eating from the same bowl what? And the bowl is only so big (or small)... As described by one of the book dealers during the lunch, "Warehouse sales are like steroid injections." How true. They solve the short-term problem of cash flow ... but the long-term side effects are less predictable. He said, "They can net about 200,000 in a warehouse sale, which will take them three months to make at the shops." I cannot be certain about that, but warehouse sales are about cash flow, or the lack of it. Warehouse sales used to be held once or twice a year for getting rid of old stock, a reasonably healthy situation. "Raman, what do you want me to do with all that old stock?" one CEO of a major book-chain said. True. No one is arguing with that. What the industry is grumbling about is that there is one practically every month (or, according to some, more often even than that), with brand new books being offered at huge discounts as loss leaders to attract customers, and with remaindered books brought in pallet-loads from Singapore, Australia, the UK and the US (in a practice known as dumping which is, probably, illegal in those countries).Now we all love our deliciously cheap infusions of books ... but in the long-term book lovers could be losers too if our local bookstores go to the wall.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
A Spectacular Bookstore Meltdown?
Raman writes about the effect of the "dumping" books during warehouse sales on the local bookstores. When he attended a meeting of book retailers in Singapore: