Member Blogs > ten pound island book companyScience Experiment

  • Sun, 05 May 2013 10:25:48    Permalink

    OK, what kind of way is this to drive into a book fair? 

    That damned box sat right at the entrance of the parking lot at the Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington, Mass., site of the 37thannual MARIAB (Massachusetts and Rhode Island Antiquarian Booksellers) Book Fair 
    Gotbooks pretends its a charity, sending books to teachers and soldiers and keeping the environment green, but actually its just a scam to get free books, which they then peddle at one of their superstores, or have chimps with barcode scanners put on the Internet. (Peter Stern observed, Well, at least we have a place to leave our books after the fair.)
    In the ecology of the book trade, they are coliform bacteria. As far as Im concerned theyre just a bunch of 

    But on to cheerier topics. (And no disrespect to the Shriners intended above. They actually DO do good work.)
    The venerable MARIAB Bookfair has been through a number of venues and iterations. It was one of the earliest of the provincial shows, and saw some heady years toward the close of last century when book fairs were the Future. Then the Internet and increased real estate values (among other things) brought a decline that saw this event come perilously close to extinction.
    I am happy to report that promoter Marvin Getman and a renewed and energized dealer base have brought it back to life.
    Indeed, the Shriners Auditorium, with its cavernous proportions and long aisles of dealers (about 75 participants this year), reminded me of the early Walter Larsen shows at that old cow barn, the Concourse in San Francisco.

    Marvin is not above a little tinkering in an effort to improve his product. This year, for example, he moved the whole show back one hour opening at 9 AM and closing at 4 PM. An early close is always appreciated by the dealers, but the early opening was looking a little sketchy. At 10 minutes before opening, the line was non-existent.
    Ten Minutes Before Opening (Greg)Marvin saw me snapping my photo and assured me the people would come. Later that afternoon he gleefully emailed me his photo of the crowd, snapped just before the show opened.
    Opening (Marvin)The people did come out, and many of them went home with purchases. Of the dealers I polled, only two had bad shows. Most reported pretty good. I didnt speak with anyone whod had a great show. But at least we all kept busy. 
    This year I tried a science experiment.
    I brought many more books than I usually do I mean GOOD books.

    - and offered them all at a 30% discount to the trade and retail customers alike.

    I was curious to see if books in a narrow niche like mine (maritime history) had a price point at which sales would increase. If my radical price cut resulted in greater sales, should I consider working at a lower margin?
    As it turned out, this fascinating (I thought so, anyway) question was rendered either moot, or was answered in the negative, depending on ones interpretation of the result. The result was, I sold my usual two or three books. 
    However, to my considerable surprise, I added seven new names to my mailing list. Usually I only meet a couple of people at each fair who seem interested in what I am selling. Is it possible that my apparent willingness to cut prices made my entire operation seem more interesting or consumer friendly, even though no one found anything to buy at this particular fair?
    Or maybe Im overthinking the whole thing.
    Yes, I think Im overthinking the whole thing.
    At least the Old Turk had a good week.
    I sold one carton of my new novel (24 copies) at the MARIAB fair, and just a couple of days earlier got some great props from high places.
    The Old Turk's Load was selected one of the ten "Best Crime Fiction Debuts" by the influential trade publication, "Booklist" and one of Amazon's "Best Books of the Month" in the "Mystery & Thriller" category.
    Go, Turk!

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