Some surprising news from one of the liveliest and most entertaining of the UK’s independent booksellers. Ron Johns, of the Falmouth Bookseller reports business some 20% up in his academic shop in Plymouth and cites resistance to Amazon as a possible reason. “Students never like the Establishment and I think they’ve begun to see Amazon as a bit like the Establishment – as this giant, global, US corporation – and they don’t like it. We’ve noticed that we don’t hear their name so much. Also, I think it’s true to say that our prices aren’t so very different to Amazon’s now. I think publishers aren’t giving Amazon such high discounts anymore and we’re able to match them better.”
As for the effect of the credit crunch on his two general shops – in Falmouth and St Ives – he says, with some nervousness, that they are both up as well. “We keep waiting for the credit crunch to happen, but it hasn’t yet. I think it will make a difference this Christmas but, curiously, it might go in our favour. I think net purchases are pre-meditated but, because the feel good factor isn’t there this year, people are going to leave it until it’s too late to buy online. Which means those last few days – Christmas is on a Thursday – will be huge.”
Cornish wisdom? Let’s hope so because, with all due respect to Amazon’s skills, no one likes to see well-run indies go to the wall.