Sunday, 18 November 2007

Confused ramblings from the secondhand book trade

Having been commenting on various blogs about retailing Westwood Cross and the problems that this poses for all the Thanet towns, with other retailers saying how bad the situation is.

Saturday’s sales in the bookshop were more than 50% up on both those of 2005 and 2006 looking at the sales analysis this was mostly ordinary secondhand books, I have to say I am totally miffed.

Now things are pretty bad in the secondhand book trade at the moment my brother has just closed his shop in St Albans that was established 45 years ago blaming the combined effects of out of town shopping and the internet.
The demise of the secondhand bookshops is particularly bad at this time because of the affect on the environment at the moment everywhere I go they seem to be closed or closing.


  1. Glad to hear of the boost in sales; sad to hear of another bookshop closing. And although the Internet does change things for everyone, especially specialist retailers, it also enables 24 hour trading and a wider audience reach for the lucky few who have a searchable niche, and who get the Internet thing right - Abebooks, eBay, your own web site, Amazon and the rest (is it a secret what percentage of your business you do online Michael?). But that doesn't make it much easier, I know, it just adds an option or two...

  2. Zumi the whole internet book trading business is fairly complicated, internet sales represent about 20% of the business’s overall sales and seem to approximately replace the fall in shop sales that the internet caused.

    However the cost of selling a book on the internet is much higher than selling via the shop, not only do the internet book databases that we sell on (Amazon etc.) take about 20% commission but the whole process is far more labour intensive.

    You also have to appreciate that although the internet caused a fall in shop sales shop expenses remain pretty much the same, effectively meaning that the databases cut comes out of profit rather than turnover.

    All of this is fairly difficult to assess accurately as the falling footfall in King Street means that my sales have been declining since the mid 1990s and internet databases charges have risen from about 10% when we started selling on it in 1998 to the present 20%.

    With the problems for me and all the other booksellers I know being that the light at the end of the tunnel is most defiantly a train coming the other way, I can only say that why our shop sales are increasing substantially after so many years is a total mystery to me.

  3. Maybe it's the Millionaires' Playground effect?


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