Before You Buy That E-Reader As A Holiday Gift . . .

Here’s the skinny– Over One Third of All eReaders Are Used Just Once Before Being Set Aside and Kindles topped the survey list of unused devices!

A recent poll showed that a third of US ereader owners said they only used their device once before putting it away or selling it.  (A survey conducted in the UK yielded an even more anti-eReader message: nearly half given as Christmas gifts had yet to be opened a month later.)

A group of almost 2,ooo ereader owners, when questioned about average usage

  • 17% used their ereader at least once a week.
  • 29% use it once a day.
  • 35% indicated that they used the device just once — ever.

The survey went on to ask why those owners who only used the ereader once, did so.

  • 57% stated they didn’t have the time to use it; they are too busy.
  •  22% said that they’d received it as a gift and didn’t have a need for it.
  • 25% simply preferred to read actual physical books.

The survey data went on to show that 37% of the regretful ereader owners did not think it was a good buy, and another 29% planned to get rid of their ereader because they used it so rarely.

Upshot?

  1. Only buy an ereader for yourself. It’s a waste of money buying it for someone else. It won’t be used, it won’t be appreciated.
  2. If you plan to buy an ereader for yourself, buy it after Christmas when unhappy owners are unloading them.
  3. If you plan to buy a gift for a reader, the best gift is still a real physical book or a gift card to a bookstore!

(This post was based on an article by Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader that ran Nov 11, 2012. We encourage every would-be gifter to read it!)

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Published in: on November 15, 2012 at 1:53 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Mysteries to Die For — RIP

Over the weekend, one our county’s great bookstores called it quits after 19 years. Despite loyal customers, the down economy, rise of ebooks and a growing number of nearby big box stores (including a B&N) made it too difficult to go on.

The store held book signings, did new releases, hosted a monthly book group (which will continue), all the things great stores do, but that couldn’t reverse the current consumer trends.

It’s very sad, but people just don’t seem to realize the value of a bookstore for making friends with similar interests, discovering books they may never have hear of, or meeting authors and hearing them read their own works.

Honestly, facebook, google, and skype can’t compare. Unless you’re stuck on the International Space Station. However, to quote the upbeat Alan Chisholm, former store owner, “Life goes on!”

Published in: on July 31, 2012 at 8:54 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Consumers are PRO Bookstores

For anyone thinking that bookstores are simply relics of the past and consumers are done with them, there’s no use trying to save them? Think again. A new survey by Brand Week proves otherwise.

Of 133 business to select from, people picked Barnes & Noble as #1, the best customer experience. Amazon? #5. Costco? #7 Borders? #18 (tying Sam’s Club). Target tied ebay #14, Walmart #42 (below Kmart). Zappos, which is known for Customer Experience didn’t get mentioned in Forrester’s complete list , which was surprising, but they may be considered part of Amazon now.

For brick and mortar bookstores that feel under siege, B&N proves that you can still come out on top. You just have to provide excellent customer service, online and off, know how to combine a great retail experience with smart product placement & merchandising, and put effort into your brand and your store’s appearance.

Indies can still come out the winner, at least in their own community.

Even if you feel “I don’t have a B&N budget,” you can still learn million-dollar secrets from walking into a few B&N stores and studying the stores and the experience.

Notice sales transactions happen at a desk to the left, behind you, as you walk in? That’s so you don’t notice it. People generally look to the right or straight (because it’s how we read). Never to the left or behind them. B&N does this so their customer’s first thought isn’t “This will cost me money.”

Now look at all the books directly in front of you? Glossy coffee tables, deeply discounted items, the popular works in paperback, and colorful magazines. Your eyes get the message: Cheap and cheerful. Your hands think: it’s ok to touch something.

To the right of you? The coffee bar, dressed in mellow tones, giving off that warm cookies and coffee smell, subtly says to your mouth and nose: Ah, relax and stay awhile. Hear a bit of music mixed in with that cappuccino maker? That’s a message to your brain, from your ears.

Your overall impression from walking in to a B&N is “This is nice. I can afford some of this. I’ll stay a bit.”

Notice the Information Station? Back of the store, so you walk through the books. Separate from checkout. Your thought isn’t “This request will cost me money.”

Study the section placement. Really. It’s based on the types of buyers that come for the types of book. Look at whether on not there’s seating near these sections.

Travelguide buyers generally know where they want to go. They look, buy a book and leave. Self-help and religion? They need a chair. Art / craft books, those folks will sit on the floor, they don’t care.

Look at the children’s area. Is your area an upscale area that’s not really family oriented? Children are probably hidden behind info and sort of secluded. The folks generally want their children safe, but don’t necessarily want to hear them disrupting the store.

Are you in in a more middle income, kid-friendly neighborhood? Probably children are upstairs, where they can be seen and heard as parents browse below. The folks generally want their children safe, but don’t mind hearing them disrupt the store a little, in fact, that’s how they know their kids are still around and still having fun and they can go on browsing books.

Actually use all of the B&N services. Buy a coffee, ask for help at the desk, select a cheap book, and buy it.  Find out what it’s like to order a book. How is that experience? How is that different than the experience you offer?

Go through the process of a great experience and see what they’re offering. Note the cards and journals near the check out. The offer of the book club discount. They way staff treats you. Their color schemes. How they’re branding the store. Do you understand how the experience is one big sales seduction?

Check out their online services as well.  See what a really useful bookstore website looks like. What that experience is like?How is that brand being reinforced in people’s minds. Then look at your store’s site. And if you don’t have one, think about putting one up.

Even a very small bookstore can do 90% of what B&N does, and do it even better because Indies really know their local area.