My wife is a bookstore junky. We’ll be walking along, or even driving along, and she will spot a bookstore and head for it. Even in the shoppers’ paradise of the Dubai Mall, the main attraction was a great bookstore. She even has destination bookstores at various locations – it used to be the Thunderbird in Carmel, that bookstore near the Metropolitan Museum on Madison in NYC we were in earlier this week, and is it Smith’s in London? And I have to admit, I’m right there with her – she’ll be on her feet more, but I’ll settle into a chair and read a likely candidate for purchase.
There is really nothing like a bookstore. The best stores display books they recommend that you might otherwise not notice, each has its own personality, and you can look the book through in your own way to see if it’s for you. Plus there is the group experience as other book lovers mill about.
So, you want to support bookstores and buy the books you find there, and not run home and order the book you found from Amazon at a cheaper price, often substantially cheaper. You want to discipline yourself to buy the book there where you find it, and keep those stores in existence. Which we do.
But now the Kindle has made it harder. Not only is the book substantially less expensive on the Kindle, sometimes you don’t want the physical book, you want it on the Kindle. I love reading on the Kindle, even though I enjoy the look and feel of real books, the memory of book covers, and the ability to scan back in a way that is better than on the Kindle. But for me somehow I read the Kindle faster and easier, and it travels very, very well. So, there you are in the store, you have found a book you want, but you want it on the Kindle. It’s a harder choice than it has ever been.
Plus, there are probably people less scrupulous than we are, who make it a regular practice to shop actual and buy virtual. They can rationalize that they are pressed for cash, they can make other rationalizations, but the moral hazard still exists.
I don’t know how widespread this problem is, or if anyone knows how widespread it is, but if it is widespread, I have a solution. Here it is:
HAVE AN AMAZON CONNECTED COMPUTER IN EACH BOOKSTORE. IF A CUSTOMER CHOOSES TO ORDER THE BOOK ON THAT COMPUTER RATHER THAN BUY IT DIRECTLY FROM THE BOOKSTORE, THEN SPLIT THE PROFIT BETWEEN AMAZON AND THE BOOKSTORE.
I don’t know how the numbers would work. Would people do it? Would they order right there in the bookstore? Would too many people be tempted to buy it on Amazon, when without this connection in the store they would just have pIcked it up at the store and the store would have enjoyed the whole profit themselves? Would this be an attractive proposition for Amazon?
I don’t know the answers. But I do think it would help me out of my moral dilemma. I see the book, I want it on my Kindle, and what am I going to do? I sure would like to give each of them some profit, and have that book the way I want it.