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October 13, 2008

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Jerry Bloom

Mike,
Kudos to you for doing this article. I read the Long tail a couple years ago and believe it to be a pretty accurate book. so the question that surfaces is: How does the CBA independent retailer take advantage of the long tail wisdom. I believe that the short answer is that they can't, but the long answer is that they can capitalize on long tail data. Chris, uses the music industry as an example of how one online music provider was able to offer exponentially more titles that a brick and mortar retailer. The reality is that only 10 to 20% of the titles in the long tail are really worth putting on shelves, and that's what retailers need to be sharp on.
As one of the largest Christian bargain book dealers, I believe that e-commerce is more destination or title focused that the traditional retail customer. People tend to browse more in a retail store than on a website. The key is to creating a perceived value for the buyer. No one wants to pay full price for anything anymore! I believe that is where the independent retailer is suffering the most: creating a perceived value in the customers mind. The use of bargain books has been huge in the success of helping folks create traffic. I even have one customer that gives away a free book every month to each customer just to get people coming back. Bargain books are great for Buy One Get One promotions or to create a small bargain section in THE BACK of the store. You notice that milk is always in the back of the grocery store....so you have to pass the Triscuits and Coke and whatever else you end up coming home with. Once people see that you have a bargain section they will spend hours looking for a gem. I see it every day at Treasures.
To summarize, books are everywhere...so why should someone buy them from you? The answer is that you have to project that reason. Are you selling value? Using the data available to you? Using new releases? Are you communication with your customers via email or direct mail? These are all questions we need to ask ourselves, especially in these challenging times.

Jerry Bloom
Treasures Christian Books
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