I’ve had a couple of experiences this week which I feel needed an airing.
Firstly, someone I know a little phoned me and asked to interview me around the topic of booksellers and how they relate to libraries and whether there was ground for a developing relationship, and a bunch of questions on were we able to find what we wanted in bookshops and a heap of other really interesting and good to make you ponder questions. And so I got to thinking about this, as always after he had asked the questions and recorded my answers, so far, so why do I always get intelligent after the event rather than during the event, but anyways …..
- Why don’t Booksellers court me and my not insignificant budget?
- Why don’t booksellers automatically assume that if you are buying a popular series you might want all the series, not just the latest one?
- Why is it that some big chain booksellers offer 25% and others only 20? And why in some cases with these same big chain booksellers wouldn’t they offer it automatically when they know you are buying regularly? Don’t make me remind you that you need to give me my discount!
- School libraries must be one of the biggest spenders of bookdollars in the country, maybe second after public libraries – why is there no sponsorship from booksellers for our association and events? Wouldn’t it be great to total up how much is spent across the country in bookshops by school libraries? It would certainly make me loyal.
- I feel like there are a bunch more bullet points here but this is where I’m at to date.
Secondly, today I have had two book reps visit and received an unsolicited book, complete with invoice. I’m going to deal with the unsolicited book first.
Unsolicited books: If you send me an unsolicited book (even if I know you) I do not have to return it, you have the opportunity to collect it from me, but the obligation all rests with you. Don’t send me unsolicited books. Ever! See this link for the actual rules.
Book Reps, ok, two visits from two completely different reps today. Rep 1, works for a well known library book supplier, brings in boxes of books. Lots of cream pages and books for dyslexic students – average publication date is 2010 – they cost $21.00 each. I check the prices on both Book Depository and Wheelers. There is a $10 difference in price, in one book and $4.20 (about 20%) difference in another one, obviously cheaper online. I mention this to the rep who is shocked. She phones her head office and they tell her to take 15% off the total cost of anything I buy, by that stage I am thoroughly peeved.
Offer me discount straight off – I am not so foolish that I will pay your overpriced costs for rather old books. Particularly when I have done the rather meagre order and you had packed up and left. You are lovely and it is maybe not your fault, but this is crap. You should have told me that the price on the books was not the actual price, you made me feel you were trying to get away with ripping me off.
Book Reps (again) If you phone me to arrange to come and show me books you should be nice. I’m getting a lot of:
- All the schools are buying these books and your students will miss out if you don’t buy them too. I don’t actually care what the others are buying. I’m working on MY collection, not the school up the road’s collection.
- If you are pushy, I will also be pushy. And again with the discount – see above.
- And, it is not your business how much my budget is Mr Book Rep. I will spend it where it does the most good for my students. That may or may not be your product!
- It is so not appropriate to say to me that history students all need to study British history if they are to understand any New Zealand history. That will make me wince and show you the door. Seriously, have a look at university papers, they are teaching NZ history, our students need to know NZ history, it’s been a while now since we needed to know about the Reformation to be able to understand how things went here – I kid you not, this is what he told me. I reiterate my point in case you missed it, BE NICE!
And here is a plug. I have two favourite Book Reps. One is Austin Kyle. He is based in Christchurch, he sells fantastic popular non-fiction that I never see anywhere else. I look forward to his visits, he is quirky and funny and full of good humour. And he is so nice! The other is Bob Anderson from John Douglas Publishing also based in Christchurch. He is interesting, his books are reasonably priced, he sends me sample copies to see if I am keen, but always asks first. He is great to have in the office and is genuinely interested in what I need and whether he can really help me.
Anyway, there you go. A rant for the end of a busy week. If you wanted to share your gripes and whines and the names of the book reps you love I’d be keen to hear.