Having received the press release from Nice Things pictured above http://thanetpress.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/a-saturday-in-ramsgate.html I wandered down to The Custom House in Ramsgate and took the pictures below of The Handmade Fair
Artist David Bailey was there and painting in watercolour, something that always interests me as I it’s something I do too..
The Daily Grind Café has opened where The Marmalade Café closed.
Tanning in King Street has closed.
I have to admit to being very conscious this week with In Shops Centres Ltd going bankrupt http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/community/community-news/heartache-at-closure-of-historic-market-hall-1-6372674 that the knock on affect of shops doing badly is now hitting the commercial property owners.
I would guess that if government don’t step in in some way then the damage to local communities will be significant. The key issue here is that shops that provide more in the way of service (the main service being that you can actually look at something before you buy it) can’t get sufficient profits to compete.
In the book world, what is happening with new books is that an increasing number of people are doing their browsing in the remaining bookshops – mostly Waterstones – and the buying online cheaper – mostly Amazon – because the online supplier has significantly less expenses.
In the secondhand book world things are slightly different mainly because the cost of the average secondhand book is much lower than the cost of the average new book. The key here though is it is the retailer who determines the price, it is for this reason that I am still trading as a secondhand bookseller.
With books, as a veracious reader I can always get personal, with my friends one of the first questions in the – hello how are you? I’m alive – conversations that take place on meeting is; “what are you reading?”
So “what are you reading, dear reader?” Well me I’m reading John Irving’s “In One Person” You know the bloke who wrote Cider House Rules, the one that was made into a film, you must have seen it, the one about the abortionist with an ether habit. This one “in one person” is about a bisexual and his crushes on the wrong people. Is it any good? Yes very, Irving seems to be at his best writing sexual comedy.
So what would I sell it for? What would I pay you for a copy?
Good condition £2.50
Very good condition £2.99 and a very good condition one we would pay £1 in cash or offer a £1.50 exchange voucher for, assuming that we wanted to buy it, which we do at the moment.
What about Amazon, they are selling it new for £5.75 inc p&p, the next cheaper is their Kindle edition at £4.31, secondhand the cheapest they have is in good condition for £2.75, and in very good condition for £3.64 inc p&p. Amazon won’t pay cash for it when you have read it, but they will give you an exchange credit of £0.25.
What about Ebay, the cheapest available in good condition is £2.98 and the cheapest they have sold one recently for is £2.88 including p&p. if you go to sell it on Ebay 2nd class post would cost you £2.60, so you would be likely to make very little once you have paid listing and PayPal fees and of course paid for the packaging.
I know this is all a bit complicated, but I guess you can see why I am still trading. In simple terms the cheapest cost of reading it, assuming you sell it afterwards is going to be around £2.50 if you use Amazon or Ebay and around £1.50 if you use my bookshop.
Small amounts I know, but if like me you are a veracious reader, I read about five books a week, it soon mounts up, £20 per week is £1,000 per year.
On with the ramble, have you got any spam in your fridge? See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25780908 this made me laugh.
Now Amazon have changed their Amazon Prime bookselling regulations and from January this year you have to make £10 worth of purchases to get free postage and packing.
Over the last few years where secondhand bookshop closures due to the internet making them redundant this is the first significant change in the opposite direction.
Sorry I got a bit diverted there, anyway back to the bookshop and bookselling thing. I don’t really understand the philosophy behind the big online secondhand sites like Amazon and Ebay, but I am making the assumption that they actively take measures to close down their opposition both online and on the street.
Frankly one of the major aspects of online trading that has made it difficult for these sites to compete with my bookshop is the cost of p&p and for a while I think that Amazon Prime has been deliberately running at a loss to damage competition.
Amazon Prime is stock stored in the Amazon warehouse, which is packed and posted by Amazon.
About two years ago, I think, Amazon extended this to secondhand books, big online secondhand booksellers could send Amazon their books, ordinary Amazon customers could sent their books to Amazon post free, for a credit and all of these books Amazon sent to customers post free.
Now for the most part secondhand book customers tend to be smarter than the average person, not only more conventionally literate but also more technologically literate, which means they take the best advantage of the available technology to get the best price.
For example had I discovered John Irving’s book in Waterstones its cover price is £7.99, they may or may not have been selling it a bit cheaper than that, but my first action having browsed it in Waterstones would have been to open the Amazon app on my smartphone and zapped the barcode with the camera. This would have given me the best Amazon price for a very good copy of around £3.50, less than half the price. So I would have pressed the “buy it now” button on my phone and the book would have been posted to me.
Rightly or wrongly I see this as the first stage in what was a loss leader directed at putting my shop out of business. Now frankly I don’t think making up a £10 order is going to be too much trouble for the new book buyer, a couple of paperbacks would do the trick but with secondhand books, where the average paperback price is around the £2 mark and many readers weekly book budget is around £5 I think this will make a very big difference indeed.