Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Strange Case of the Store Whose Business Was Dramatically Affected by Football Games, but Could Not Really Sell Football Books That Well

Last fall we had four football-related events. We had decent turnouts for two of them and disappointing showings for the two others, but sales for the disappointing events were pretty good. I won't mention the book but we had one event that had just a couple of attendees, but we still sold 18 copies. We didn't chase these events; they mostly fell in our lap. And I didn't chase football events for 2010 because...we don't sell football books very well.

So I'm working New Year's Day (open 11 am to 5 pm) and we're not expecting to be that busy, but Starbucks is open, and "The King's Speech" is playing down the block in both screens and that's been giving us an hourly pop all week. (That will change next week, if only because they won't be showing weekday matinees the way they did between Christmas and New Year's).

But it's the Rose Bowl and Wisconsin is in it, and that's probably going to affect traffic. And tomorrow? The Packers have an important game with...honestly, I don't even know. But I know it's important. Don't complain about my lack of knowledge. Most Milwaukeeans don't even care about the Badgers unless they are on a huge winning streak, as they were this year. What's worse, an admitted non-sports person or a fair-weather fan? Since I know next to nothing about sports, I can't even tell you.

So this is my beef. Why are our customers watching the football games but not reading the football books? Jason said that and Amie are classic examples of people who watch football but have no interest in the books. But if that's the case, why isn't that true everywhere? The old Brookfield Schwartz could sell football like nobody's business.

Here were the five most popular football books by demand at our wholesaler:
1. Home Team: Coaching the Saints and New Orleans Back to Life, by Sean Payton with Ellis Henican
2. The Blind Side, by Michael Lewis. How can this not be number one? I don't know there system for compiling demand.
3. The Games that Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays, by Ron Jaworski, Greg Cosell, David Plaut, and Steve Sabol. Sadly, this is out of stock from many of our sources.
4. Things I've Learned from Watching the Browns, by Terry Pluto
5. Washington Redskins Football Vault, by Michael Richman
6. Blood, Sweat and Chalk: The Ultimate Football Playbook: How the Great Coaches Built Today's Game, by Tim Layden
7. Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series, by Dan Wetzel, Peter Josh, and Jeff Passan
8. University of Utah Football Vault, by Dan Hickey
9. Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look, by Pat Kirwan, David Seigerman, Bill Cowher
10. Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden's Oakland Raiders, by Peter Richman

I see a problem right away. Half these books are only for a local market. They probably published 50 of those football vault books. Why the Washington Redskins and the University of Utah had the biggest demand is beyond me.

Regarding rooting for and buying books about the local teams, we just brought in a new and a bit hard-to-source Packers book for stock, partly because we had some special orders. It's A Championship Team: The Packers and St. Norbert College in the Lombardi Years, by Cliff Christl. And there was The Fire Within, by Jim Taylor out this year, though his signings were at larger chain stores. Plus they are going to rush out a Rose Bowl book from Triumph Press if Wisconsin wins. Hey, I think we should have a football table, especially if Wisconsin wins.

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