Wednesday 3 February 2010

Less is More?

Our new website is taking up quite a bit of my time and energy at the moment. I enthusiastically demonstrated our 'beta' version of it to a friend the other day, extolling the virtues of the improved search engine, increased product information, and (most importantly from my point of view) the simplicity involved in keeping it up to date when she said 'Aren't you just giving everyone all the information they need about a book for them to go and buy it cheaper elsewhere?'. Gulp. Uur. Well, I suppose you could look at it like that. Actually, why don't I just shut up shop now and leave the bookselling to Amaz... all those other online retailers?
I don't, purely because I think we can provide a better service. We have a phone number for one thing and many customers will ring for advice about their choice of book, we are happy to source hard-to-find books, we take bookstalls out to special events, we even allow customers to take a box load of books to look through/discuss with Church leaders and then buy some and return some. We have specialist knowledge in our own niche of Christian books and enjoy discussing the finer details of particular titles. I could go on and on... about the mail order customer who buys books obsessively and so for his own well being we tactfully try to limit his purchases... about the 'mad monk' who pops in and likes to discuss the details of Calvinism over Roman Catholicism... about the little old lady who phones for a couple of greetings cards and insists that I describe the picture in detail and read every part of the greeting out to her... about the grumpy local chap who calls in regularly but rarely buys anything. Surely, surely it is worth staying open for that! Okay, so we can't always compete on price, but I'm pretty sure we can compete on service. Try us!

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