Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Stray Bookseller Comment Leads Us to Redo the Business and Finance Cases

We knew we wanted our foreign language books closer to travel. This led to flipping about four cases. Then Sarah realized the general business books didn't progress naturally from case to case. Then I noticed that the subsections in business didn't work well together. I wanted retirement and real estate books (well, while we still have the section) with personal finance, and the general business books near leadership and corporate stories.

I re-subdivided the sections back at Schwartz, with the help of Todd Sattersten at 800-CEO-READ. It was really to try to jump-start business sales at ou Brookfield store, only blocks from Milwaukee's largest Edge City. The problem was that it didn't matter in the end what we did; if there was no place to get food, the business types weren't going to stop and browse with us. When the Cousins sub shop closed nearby, our last hope was gone.

When we looked closer, we realized that a good number of books were shelved incorrectly. For some reason, a number of second-hand business titles had not been integrated. And the price points on some of the second-hand titles were too high; they were bought when the potential was there for these books to go head-to-head against new copies, but they had aged, the titles did not not become better known, and their prices needed to dropped accordingly. Regarding the errors, maybe some of my booksellers are afraid of the section, or are too overwhelmed with work. In any case, we needed to fix the problem.

So we have these sections, and we're selling a bit. We've done a bit of research to make sure we have some of the correct titles. The browsing is still spotty and I'd like to pull out some more subsections. We're currently pulling a section out on nonprofit resources, after realizing that so many folks we were talking to were in this field, and a bit inspired by Tracy Gary's recent visit, and the recent decision by my coworker Nancy to jump into the world of nonprofit consulting (a helpful response to all you folks who asked at Book Expo what Nancy was doing now).

But in the end, it may be that what we really need is a Cousins, or a Cousins equivalent nearby.

I also had an interesting comment from a customer who came in to thank us for reopening the bookstore, and then proceeded to tell me why he wouldn't buy a business book from me (he wound up buying nothing and leaving, content that his "go get 'em" inspirational comments were what we needed to keep the store going.) And if the business isn't there because that's the prevailing attitude, the section breadth will follow.

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