Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol and the Warehouse

You might have heard that Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, has a new novel out called The Lost Symbol. I asked my friendly local bookseller a couple of days ago how many copies she had ordered.

“Seventy-five,” she said. “It’s a $60 hardback.”

“Have you read it yet?” I asked.

“God no,” she said. “We’re not allowed to open the cartons until Wednesday. And even then . . . ”

I saw her again the afternoon the book went on sale and asked how many copies she had sold. “Fifteen,” she said. “But the bloody Warehouse is selling it at $31.99 so we have to too.”

She buys the book from the publisher at about $30, sells it at $32 to match the Warehouse, and so she makes $2 per copy. That doesn’t begin to cover the costs of staff opening the cartons, stocking the shelves and patiently dealing with the idiots who want to buy the thing.

This is not a story about how evil the Warehouse is. It isn’t – it’s simply using its market power the same way supermarkets use loss leaders. And really, this is all driven by customers, i.e. you and me, who want to buy stuff cheaply. But who’d be a small retailer in a town with a Big Red Shed?

3 comments:

Rob's Blockhead Blog said...

Yeah, I was told the last Harry Potter actually made NZ retailers very little, if any, money, for precisely the same reason.

But they figured it got people inside the store.

Chad Taylor said...

That's the sort of thinking that made the music industry what it is today...

Sildenafil Citrate said...

I don't know why some people hate Dan Brown. I think his books are really good and entertaining! I can't wait to read the next!