Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Students turning against 'the big corporation'?

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.

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