Chuck writes about book stores, and I always love his curmudgeonly consumer stories. This post is my response. It gives me a chance to plug my favorite book store Baker Books, and commiserate about Preferred Reader accounts.
I hate the preferred reader accounts as well. Waldenbooks used to have clubs. They didn’t charge you to be a part of the Sci-Fi Readers Club.
And you got a discount. They collected your info and they sent you a newsletter, but you didn’t pay.
I was a broke student when they switched over to the current system, and I thought the idea was insane. But it’s actually ingenious. See, just giving the discount is not enough to get you to come back. Charging the (IMHO arbitrary) $25 is how they make you feel obligated to come back.
This is how it works: The discount is the carrot they wave to get you to pay the fee. The fee is what you pay so that you feel obligated to return. You don’t return because of the discount—you return because of the fee.
I like the way my local bookseller does it. Which is (surprise, surprise!) almost exactly like Chuck’s Chinese restaurant example. Baker Books keeps track of the books you buy (and they don’t share the info) and after 12 books, you get a credit based on the average $$ you spent on your 12 books. Basically, you get enough to buy another book at the average price. So, every so often, they throw another book in for free.
You’ll go up to the counter to buy a book, and they’ll say “Aha. You have a credit. Would you like to use it today?” Sweet! Your book is free that day.
I should only ever buy books from Baker Books. They’re smart, helpful, friendly and they were helping me find books before it was easy to search on the internet. They have a used book store right next door (I’ve never been in there). Inside the store, there is a cafe, and they have social events which semi-hermits like me do not attend.
If you’re ever in Dartmouth on Rte. 6, stop n and buy a book. You know you want to.
Remember Annie’s Book Stop? There used to be one of those behind Papa Gino’s in Dartmouth. I think I gave them all my Star Wars books for credit. But I don’t think I ever collected any used books with that credit because the place was filled with romance novels. If you could find something you liked, it was a good way to recycle books.Posted by James at July 24, 2004 4:00 AM