Go Read This | Tesco tablet expected on 23 September

Tesco-LogoIt has been clear for some time that probably only full-scale retailers have the capacity to respond to Amazon, Google, Apple and other digital giants. They have the advantages of scale, access to capital, direct customer interaction and customer inertia working in their favour.

Of course, those advantages are threatened by online retailers like Amazon and by the shift to digital consumption of media. It makes sense then that really forward-looking retailers will attempt to move into the digital distribution and retail space. Many of them have been offering online grocery shopping effectively for some time, long before Amazon or other newer entrants. Tesco has been making what look like smart moves in digital media for a while. It will be intriguing to see if this forthcoming tablet play works.

Success, however, cannot be measured by units sold alone. A good sign of it working would be of the company sells lots of tablets AND signs lots of people up to its digital content services. At the kind of price point the articles on the tablet are talking about, content sales and customer acquisition for the digital services are the goal in the short and medium term.

The question that arises for me is what’s the longer term play for Tesco? How can it build on success in the UK (if it materializes) and can it compete with the giants even if it does succeed in the UK. The costs of such competition can be quite hefty, as B&N has learnt to its cost:

Tesco might be able to hit the £99 price using a cashback-style promotion, Wood suggests: “I can see Tesco using substantial discounts on other services such as bundled media from Blinkbox, or vouchers for discounts on petrol or groceries through its ClubCard loyalty scheme.”

The tablet would take on competitors from the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon, and will be tailored to online shopping and video viewing – both areas where Tesco is looking to capitalise on its position.

via Tesco tablet expected on 23 September – and may be very low-priced | Technology | The Guardian.

I am not convinced – Why “bookaholic”, as a concept, stinks

Eoin Purcell

Books bought by the kilo, sold by the rupee. Probably about a mile of books along the street for sale. If you ever need any outdated calculus and basic programming books, I know where you can go!
Books bought by the kilo, sold by the rupee. Probably about a mile of books along the street for sale. If you ever need any outdated calculus and basic programming books, I know where you can go!

Bad ideas sometimes have a long half-life*
Damian Horner has an opinion blog in the bookseller today and it is a pretty shameless self-defence piece:

That is why we are moving forward with the Book­aholic concept. It gives a new twist to the mantra “You can’t put a good book down”, one that provokes comment and debate. And with limited resources, that debate will be crucial in providing the campaign with the oxygen it needs to get noticed.

The comments on the piece are developing nicely and are worth paying some attention to.

By Booktard
Perhaps I’m flogging a dead horse here, but it really does seem that the statement ‘I’m a Bookaholic’, as you’ve presented it Damian, ie “Hello. My name is Damian Horner and I’m a Bookaholic.” which relies on implicit irony to have any impact at all, is a slap in the face to alcoholics, especially AA members for whom that statement is part of a ritual of overcoming their addiction. Even if it’s funny, it’s insensitive. You may as well try ‘I’ve got book flu’ (or indeed ‘I’m Booktarded’). It’s asinine and that’s why it’s under attack and not recieving the support it might require to ‘work’.

But by the far the more reasoned and on the button piece (in fact there was a second one too) on this was written by the wonderful Vanessa of fidrabooks a little while ago:

“Bookaholism” – that’s what they came up with. Yes people, we’re going to liken a love of books to an addiction to alcohol. That’s classy. And it gets worse. Apparently ”among the slogans likely to be seen in the campaign – which, having been green-lit, will be prioritised and rolled out before Christmas – are “Consume no less than one a month”, “Class A reading material”, “This book is seriously addictive”, “Once you’ve started it’s hard to stop” [sorry, but that was Pringles – are we now likening our industry to crisp-selling?], and “Books are mind expanding” – I can’t see those working in our children’s bookshop or among the Morningside matrons who make up a large part of our customer base: “Yes madam, do try the new Eoin Colfer, I believe it’s very similar to crack cocaine”… Maybe not.

She wasn’t shy about offering other ideas either, this was no lame attack without substance or alternative, it was informed, clever and well thought through:

It also struck us that unlike the addiction-based scheme, it needs to be a campaign which can easily be adapted to appeal to all parts of the trade from children to older people, from avid readers to people who read only a few books a year. We also loved the American Booksellers Association slogan of “Eat. Sleep. Read.” and I’m sure that the UK could license that from them. It is quite similar to 2008’s National Year of Reading but to be fair, the message is pretty much the same with the new campaign just being tweaked to encourage people to buy books. I don’t know how ‘bookaholism’ encourages buying books specifically rather than borrowing them from the library.

In return she felt so badly abused that she stopped blogging for a while only returning this week to reveal the great news that fidra is a) opening a gallery for the summer (whoop) and b) opening an adult bookshop as well. And why not?

I’m very partisan on this front and cannot help but think that the Bookaholic idea is a dud of gigantic proportions and I look forward to it being buried in lead-lined concrete bunkers along with the other toxic and radioactive waste!

Nice weather here in Cork!

** Image From Flickr user Distra

Harry Potter & selling other books at Waterstones

Eoin Purcell

The art of selling
Selling Harry Potter takes no work for a bookseller. Yeah they can open at 12-midnight and have a show with owls, yes they can sell it for the incredible price of €8.99 but at the end of the day most people who buy Harry Potter were going to buy it anyway, they just took a greater or lesser share of that Harry market. [Due Disclosure: I bought my Harry for Euro 10.70 in Tesco with no feelings of guilt or badness).

So I was not terribly impressed with the Harry show. But something did strike me as very effective in Waterstones store in Jervis St Centre Dublin. On the first floor entrance there is a three bay bank of staff reviewed books of nearly every possible genre. Some nice shots below:

These are old tricks for Waterstones and good ones too. They are enjpyable to read and very much make me likely to buy. in fact had I not already had my bag filled with six books I was escorting back to Cork I would have bought this book:
Close up

It’s a simple tool but the bulk of these books are old or backlist, the hype long since past. There were of course piles of Harry Potter nearby but although there were posters and the rest there was little need to highight it, it sold itself. These books needed effort and as you can see they got it. That’s bookselling and I have to say I admire it.

Wishing I had had a bigger bag,