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June 02, 2007

Comments

Roamin' Roman

Doesn't surprise me one bit - I had to SEARCH Barnes & Noble for my copy. I finally found a small stack (maybe three high) in the midst of one of the dozen "New Release" tables. That's it. No display, nothing. Nothing back in the "Theology" section either. Methinks somebody is going against all good business sense in order to satisfy their ideological desires...

thomps

I called my local Barnes & Noble to reserve a copy when B16s book came in. I was informed only one copy was on order but that they would hold it for me. When I went in the other day I noticed they had a stack of his books on the new arrivals table and they had a 30% off sticker. I only got the 10% off deal because I buy the card every year. For a better section of theology/religious titles I have to drive into Grand Rapids which has a couple of Schuler Books and Music stores. They're far superior to B&N.

Patrick Kinsale

If you want a Catholic book, find and support a good local Catholic bookstore. Or get it online from a Catholic site. The good this does is worth the wait.

Ann S.

I own a small Catholic bookstore--I only ordered 20 copies of the book, but Doubleday supplied me with a standup display, which I have on my Pope Benedict table, at the front of the store, along with copies of the book, lots of other books by Cardinal Ratzinger, and a beautiful framed picture of His Holiness. Forget about B&N--support your local Catholic bookstore!!!!!

Oliver

Maybe that's why the pope's book is only 56th (or 54th, don't remember) in this week USA today best seller list (it was 24th last week). If you look at the other titles it is frightening to see what people prefer to that master piece of our holy father.

Kitty

I concur with those who say support your local Catholic bookstore. My husband owns one and it is really frustrating to know that our friends come to browse and ask questions about the books and materials (taking valuable time from employees) - and then say they'll go buy the book from Amazon or B&N because it is cheaper!!! Don't they know that that's stealing and that we'll have to close down if no one buys anything?

Dan

I also find it curious that it has not been reviewed yet in the New York Times or LA Times (unless I missed it).

Dave Hartline

I wholeheartedly concur with those who call upon us to support our local Catholic bookstore. I always buy my Catholic books there. In addition, my book "The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism," which is featured in most Catholic bookstores is not in all of the secular big boys. One of my Catholicreport.org readers told me that when inquiring why my book wasn't in one of the chain stores the store manager said he had never heard of me. Fair enough it is my first book. However, when prodded to name another Catholic author, he could not. We have to be aggressive in our marketing. Nobody is going to do it for us. However, I do believe strides are being made. We just can't let up one single inch. We have to find someone to get Catholic authors in the cable news channels. Some of the big time Protestant authors seem to be able to get their message out with multi-million up front money from the big time publishers of the world. At this stage in the game, most of us are just glad to pay the bills.

Red Cardigan

Kitty, with all due respect, I must disagree.

I've all but stopped shopping at my local Catholic bookstore because the markups are so high--and that's not just my opinion; a relative worked for the owner for a while and expressed some discomfort with the owner's idea of a good profit margin on books, cheap Chinese-made statues, second rate rosaries and the like.

I'm sure not all Catholic bookstores are like that, and I know that the big corporate bookstores get better wholesale prices because of the amount of books they order at once, something the smaller companies can't compete with. But, for your consideration, here are today's prices on the pope's new book:

Amazon: $14.97
Barnes & Noble: $15.71
My local store, which I won't name: $24.95, which is the 'cover price' of the book.
EWTN's online store: $25.00, a nickel *higher* than the publisher's cover price.

Now, my family, like many other Catholic families who might actually buy this book, survives on one income in a two-income world. I could afford to consider paying a few dollars more for an item at my local store. But I can't afford to pay ten dollars more, especially when I can walk into my local Barnes and Noble, pay $15.71, and not even have to factor in shipping costs as I would with Amazon.

One more thing: if it's 'stealing' to browse around a store, look at various items, and then decide not to buy, I guess I do a lot of 'stealing' at my favorite shoe store. :)

Irenaeus

"Don't they know that that's stealing and that we'll have to close down if no one buys anything?"

With appreciation for your struggles as small businesspeople, I don't think it is 'stealing' per se -- even if it is tactless, somewhat devious, and frustrating.

Kitty (or any other Catholic bookstore owners), let me ask this: do you have a website? I may buy some Catholic stuff in the near future as my wife and I explore things, and I'll keep you in mind.

thomps

Unfortunately my local Catholic bookstore is in Grand Rapids and its hours don't fit my work schedule and quite frankly their selection isn't as good as what I can find at Schulers. With gas prices continually skyrocketing my trips to Schulers have diminished quite a bit as well. I try not to order online because I hate using my credit card. I usually end up special ordering the titles I want through B&N. That said I have never seen any special marketing displays for any of the books in the religious section there. It's tucked away in a back corner of the store where it's pretty much hidden.

Ian

Aquinas and More Catholic Goods

Unfortunately, we don't have millions of dollars in the bank to afford to discount things to only 13% above cost so we actually have to charge retail.

Maybe if Catholic bloggers and shoppers in general didn't make their first reaction to be "buy it at Amazon", some of your local and online Catholic stores would actually thrive and be able to support their families instead of barely scraping by.

I do understand the issue with markups but when you consider what jewelry stores do when they price their stuff (3-4 times cost), Catholic jewelry is usually a great buy.

You also should consider that places like Amazon and BN have an economy of scale that no one else has. Do you think your local Catholic store can approach a publisher and demand 60% off retail, unrestricted returns and either consignment or 90 day terms (with the 90 days usually stretching into 6 months)? No way. These big companies unfairly force publishers to give them an advantage that no Catholic store can receive.

I do think that Kitty has a point about "stealing" in that you are taking up your local Catholic store's time and expertise to get the information you want before you make a purchase and then go buy it somewhere else.

I would never walk into a camera shop, take up a salesman's time to have him show me all the different features of different cameras and make recommendations only to go buy it online because it is cheaper. The owner of the business has to pay that employee and has probably also spent money training the employee so that he can provide expertise to the shopper.

Now I'm never going to refuse to help a customer who I know isn't going to buy an item but it certainly is rude for the customer to do this.

Kitty

Red Cardigan: It is not stealing to browse, but if you go into the store specifically to pick the brains of the employees with no intention whatsoever to buy, then I think it might be. Do you go into a shoe store to look at their wares and think about what you might want to buy from them later; or do you get the employees to try every shoe on you, finding out the manufacturer's secrets, where you can get the shoes wholesale, and how they are made just so you can walk out and make them yourself or get them cheaper elsewhere without doing any research yourself, while the employees could be selling shoes to others and earning their paychecks (remember they don't get a paycheck if no shoes are sold)?

The employees at our store work very hard to know their product and their faith (I am not talking about EVERY Catholic store or small business, but at our store we strive to have the best quality items we can get, at the best price we can get, and we DO NOT buy Chinese or any other product that undermines human life or Christianity). So when someone comes in and gets all of this information during business hours when the employees could be shipping packages or checking items in or adding items to the shelves or web site, all of which MUST be done in order for us to make any money and pay the bills, that person is literally taking food out of the mouths of my children. Of course, we want to spread the Faith and talk to anyone who wants to know about the Church. But if someone comes in, not to learn about the Faith, but to take information to get something cheaper elsewhere, it is more than just tactless. I give them the benefit of the doubt: maybe they do not realize that the families of those who work there depend on actually selling items for their living.

Irenaeus: yes, we have a website. It is www.aquinasandmore.com. If your local Catholic store can't or won't order a book for you, we encourage you to come look at our selection. If what you want is not there, we can probably get it for you, provided it is truly Catholic (no Andrew Greely, for example)

John Gordon

While I don't own a "Catholic" bookstore but a general bookstore , we are Catholic and have the largest Catholic section of books in SE Washington State/Lewis & Clark Valley. I purchased 5 copies of the Pope's new book and received a 40.5% discount -- that's 14.85 a copy plus shipping.

I just looked at Amazon where it's selling for $14.97 or only 12 cents more than I pay WHOLESALE. So those of us who aren't Amazon or B&N or Borders or Powell's... have to have such a "huge" profit margin.

What may be even scarier, however, is that 1% of the people who view Jesus of Nazareth at Amazon end up buying Harry Potter #7.

John

Kitty

A case in point: not to criticize Amy, but look where most of the links to the books she promotes on her side bar lead: Amazon! Look at just about ANY Catholic author's blog: their book links are ALL to Amazon, with very few exceptions. Why not support the Catholic stores who are trying to spread the Faith instead of secular chains that hide the Pope's book in the back of the store and put the latest soft porn novel in the display windows in front?

Elena

From the Bible Belt – app.3% Catholic – thoughts on Catholic books and bookstores –

I think there are only two Catholic bookstores in the diocese and both are listed on the diocesan website on the page titled “offices and committees.” Are they privately owned or not? One is right beside the cathedral and I always assumed it was funded in some way by the diocese. It is an hour drive to a Catholic bookstore from my home so Amazon is convenient. However, the Catholic bookstore, though more expensive – about $10 more on the Pope’s recent book – has a very knowledgeable staff who have suggested books I might enjoy, greet me by name, and do beautiful gift wrap at no extra charge.

Based on a quick look, the local outlet of a VERY large discount chain didn’t appear to have any Catholic books although it did have one whole row of Christian books – both devotional and fiction. There was also a section with Bibles, but I didn’t check to see if there were any Catholic Bibles. On their website they have lots of Catholic books and the lowest price I have seen yet for Jesus of Nazareth. I suppose their decision was a marketing decision. (They do have a section of Spanish language books at the local store and I would think that many who might choose those would be Catholic.)

We have a bookstore in the local mall that I think is part of a small regional chain. When I was there recently they had an excellent selection of Catholic books – much better than previous visits. I wondered why the rather sudden change in offerings – requests I hope.

Our local library doesn’t have a large budget so I have sometimes had them order a book I want to read as a donation to the library. As a library, they get a great price on the book which is all the donor pays, I get to read it, others get to read it too, and thanks to those organized and efficient librarians, I always know where it is if I want to refer to it!

craig

Note to Catholic bookstores: I do favor patronizing one's local Catholic bookstore; there is one near me and I have at times. At the same time, let me just observe that many of these are too "precious" and fussy, giving off so many estrogen vibes that the shopping experience is, for a man, much like stumbling into a bridal gown shop.

Mary Ann

Thomps said: "I try not to order online because I hate using my credit card."

You can order from www.allcatholicbooks.com and they will accept a check in the mail for payment. I have used them for years.

matt

Ian,

Could you expand on your point that "These big companies unfairly force publishers to give them an advantage that no Catholic store can receive." ?

I think that if a Company can buy a million cans of soup for a quarter, then they should buy them for a quarter. Do you suggest the government stepping in and demanding that they pay the MSRP of 2 dollars?

I'm obviously not an economist, but you seem to be objecting to basic free market practices that aren't really unfair at all. Do you ever buy things in bulk cheaper than you could individually? Wouldn't that also be unfair by your reasoning?

I try and support my local Catholic bookstore(operated at a local parish) but I also have to be wise about how I spend my money. Many of the books there cost 50% more than I can find online. If it was close to being the same price, then I would shop there exclusively, but it's not......

Peace out,

Matt

Ian

Large companies such as Amazon can demand up to 80% discounts on the books (we know a local publisher who was told that). This is really unfair to the publishers who basically have to make a deal with the devil to sell their books there knowing that they are only going to be making pennies on each book, if that.

I am not suggesting that the government get involved, I am suggesting that the strong-arm tactics that Amazon, BN and Walmart (among others) use is immoral as it puts an undue strain on publishers who really can't afford to sell books at the prices these companies demand or they are forced to outsource to forced abortion/sterilization/organ harvesting China or cut quality.

Is there something wrong with getting stuff at a discount when you buy in bulk? No. Whenever we discuss discounts with small publishers or manufacturers we tell them what we usually receive and ask if they can afford to do the same. Sometimes they can't and we work with that.

By choosing to shop at places like Amazon for your Catholic stuff you are making it more likely that that local or on-line Catholic store will not be around to sell you First Communion gifts and other Catholic stuff but are helping to ensure that Amazon and various other discounters will be around to sell porn and various other things next to the few remaining Catholic products that can survive being forced to sell at 60-80% off.

Consider why you HAVE to buy the book at discount from one of these places that are quite happy selling boy-love books along with the latest Catholic release. Is that money being saved so you can feed your family? Pay the mortgage? Give to charity? Or is it being saved so you can buy more stuff? If it's being saved to buy more stuff, I don't have any sympathy for your desire to deprive a Catholic store of its livelihood so you can go buy some sunglasses or a computer game.

Catholic stores are run by CATHOLICS who run the stores primarily because they believe that Catholic products should be available to help people get to Heaven. They don't run them to get rich. While some of them may appear to be gouging people, most are honest and just trying to make a living.

Amazon and BN are run to sell whatever they can, whatever the moral content, for whatever they can make the largest profit on. They have absolutely no concern for getting people to Heaven, they have no interest in helping your local parish and for the most part give any charity money to population control and homosexual and environmental extremist causes.

I am going to start a blog post series back on our blog about this tomorrow because the whole issue of supporting Catholic businesses and Catholic businesses running like businesses instead of thinking they are entitled to your business is a much bigger issue than can be discussed in a combox.

Quisnam

A few comments:

1. The Pope's new book debuted at #6 on yesterday's New York Times list, hardly an indication that Doubleday is ignoring it.

2. Large publishers like Doubleday use the BEA to promote their forthcoming fall books, not books already published, like the Pope's.

3. No publisher gives Amazon an 80 percent discount; that's preposterous. The most I've ever heard (and I've been in publishing for 20 years) was 55 percent and that's when the books were sold nonreturnable. At 80 percent off (after paying royalties and manufacturing costs), the publishers would lose money on every copy sold.

4. I thought I'd give the Aquinas and More site my business yesterday, because I like supporting Catholic retailers. I found the Scott Hahn book I was looking for, but not Merton's Seven Storey Mountain or Nouwen's Return of the Prodigal Son. And the only edition of Teresa's seemed overpriced and from a publisher I'd never heard of; not the Image edition I was looking for. Maybe A & M considers Merton and Nouwen insufficiently Catholic; fair enough--they get to choose what they stock. But in the end, it was easier for me to place my whole order with Amazon.

Ian

We know a local publisher that was told by Amazon that if they wanted Amazon to stock and sell their stuff it would be 80%. We also know at least one publisher who was told 60%.

Yes, I realize that we don't carry everything and I appreciate your attempt. We do have several of Nouwen's books on our list to add and we understand that we may not have every edition of a book. We take special order requests from people all the time and usually can fill them.

I realize that that isn't as convenient as clicking a button but we do appreciate your input.

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