I am told that today is National read a Book Day. I hope you have not yet finished EVERYTHING you bought here in July, and have something left to read. If so, I’ll wait here while you go off and read that. It is NOT, after all, Read a Blog Day.
We did sell enough this year to provide plenty of reading, but we did also have a record number of leftovers. This has prompted some people who will not give up advising me to suggest ways to sell more books. I am in favor of selling more books, but a lot of these ideas lose sight of the point of the game. Yes, we want to sell a lot of books. But we really aim at making a maximum number of dollars, so we can afford to turn on more lights in Room 4 next year. So all those people who suggested that if we limited pricing to a dime a tome are missing the point.
(I repeat, we DO want to sell a lot of books. This is why we also turn away all those people who ask, every year, why we don’t sell just hundred dollar books. This would take up less space, involve fewer customers scuffing our floors, and save ALL kinds of trouble. It would, too, because after a year or so of THAT, we wouldn’t have to bother holding the Book fair at all.)
But since we also want to make as many people happy as possible, we don’t like to just keep smacking our own foreheads and crying, “Why didn’t I think of that? What a really stupid idea!” This makes them frown, and it doesn’t do a thing for our headaches. So I am working on a set of ideas which will answer these folks in a positive way, and still get me off the hook.
BUY ONE GET ONE FREE: I never have seen much point to this. Those nice copies of hardcover novels at three bucks are, nowadays, going for an 87% discount. You’d think that would be enough. Furthermore, I hate any idea which is going to add extra steps to the checkout process (“Yes, sir, I KNOW we said one free book with every ten books, but you have forty-three books here and if I give you four free, that means you’re only paying for thirty-nine books, which means you get THREE free books, not four.”)
So if I had to have a BOGO offer, it would run something like “Buy one ten thousand dollar book, get a second one of equal or lesser value FREE!” I’m not allowed to put books costing more than five thousand dollars out for sale without special permission, so the chances that this deal would ever be claimed are modest. And, yeah, if you wrote $10,000 in a copy of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and brought it to checkout, MOST of our checkers would catch you, and not allow you that free fifty dollar book you wanted. Others would charge you ten thousand dollars, so I guess we all win anyhow.
BONUS FOR BULK PURCHASE: We actually do allow this sometimes, on a case by case basis. One year, when our collection of 45 RPM records consisted mainly of scratched party records, with labels covered with owners’ names and sometimes cigarette burns, I did allow someone to buy the whole shebang for a lump sum. But there are people who want to make this standard: Buy a hundred books, and get ten percent off your purchase if you come tomorrow. Once again, this is cutting down on our income and adding one more thing for the checkout crew to keep track of. (I can see the headline: “Book Fair Coupon Counterfeiters Dragged In By FBI: Da Vinci Code Too Expensive, Says Counterfeiter”.)
Here’s what we’ll do. We’ll put up posters declaring that if you buy one thousand dollars worth of books you get a gold star for That Day. Collect five gold stars—one from each day of the Fair, including the Preview—and you get a fifty dollar gift certificate for your next purchase at the Rosenberg Bookshop in the Newberry lobby. This gets YOU a prize which costs the Book Fair nothing, and it gets you in through the doors of the Bookshop in a spending mood. If the Manager of the Bookshop insists, I will make it reciprocal. You buy a thousand dollars worth of goods every day the Bookshop is open during the year, and I’ll give you a hundred dollars off at the Book Fair. Nothing fairer than that.
Those are just some of my ideas. I have more. Where are you…. Oh, that’s right. You have a book to read.