Friday, November 28, 2008

Booksellers’ “Bah Humbug” Black Friday

This really is the year booksellers are going to need to find a new way to bring customers into the store during the holiday shopping season. So, what are booksellers doing on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year when retailers offer the biggest deals to lure in customers? Not a whole lot.

One web site that tracks Black Friday deals says B&N is offering a 40% coupon for one book (so long as I pay with a MasterCard), Borders sent out an email touting their “Black Friday” deals and the best “deal” I remember was “buy one book light, get one free.” There are other deals – Wal-Mart is selling books at 50% off (but with a limited selection) and Half-Price books is giving a 20% discount on all books for the first few hours they’ll be open tomorrow. But this seems like a bunch of “bah hum bug” deals indeed.

I admit that I may be wrong about this, but unlike the majority of other retailers who make their deals very obvious and easy to find, the booksellers marketing has been less than stellar. There are a variety of coupons, codes and conflicting messages about what’s available. And that’s just the big box stores. Most indie booksellers don’t discount at all and those that do keep it at bare minimum.

Is this a lost opportunity? I wonder if offering a big discount on one day wouldn’t make sense, if only to capture those dollars early in the shopping season before they are spent on the latest I-pod. No, the margin won’t be that great on a book discounted 40%, but it’s better than seeing that money go elsewhere.

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