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Monday, September 5, 2011

Learning from Borders' Closing

The big news among publishers, authors and retailers last month was the closing of Borders bookstores. They will be missed.

The truth is, this has little if anything to do with the economy. It has to do with innovation, the cycling of an industry—in this case the publishing industry—into something new. It also has to do with the tendency for most bookstores not to adapt. In fact, the tendency of much of the retailing industry not to adapt...or at least not recognize opportunity when it comes up and stares us in the face, nose to nose.

I bring something unique to the publishing industry. Well, if not unique then rare. I am a writer with retail experience as owner of my own chain of retail stores. Nearly three decades of it. And this is how successful small and large retailers adapt to changing times.

  1. They get local. In the case of bookstores, they could featuring local writers to increase their profitability. I worked with Borders as an author a couple times. It wasn’t easy going!
  2. They partner. In the case of bookstores, they can partner with local authors, combine contact lists and promotion power to get more customers in for special events and to increase loyalty. Retailers of most any ilk could easily boost their net income on any given day from  2 to 20%.
  3. They listen to their customers. That might mean narrowing their focus to reach niche markets. Unfortunately large chains either refuse to do this pleading expense, but the successful large ones do. As an example, Walmarts buys different kinds of merchandise for stores in areas that have different interests and different needs.

The question for authors and retailers is, can they learn to use one another's power to benefit both.  

See my comment on this article put out by Wharton’s school of business.
For retailer who isn't yet convinced, I've written a book that addresses the benefits of these kinds of partnerships and a lot of other ways to increase bottom lines, too. The book is . A Retailer's Guide To Frugal In-Store Promotions: How-To Increase Profits And Spit In The Eyes Of Economic Downturns Using Thrifty Events And Sales Techniques. In it is a chapter on how retailers can benefit from partnering with authors for events. Authors, too, could learn something from it. The more we know about retailing, the easier it is for them to help retailers see the benefits of working with them.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson's FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques launched at the National Stationery Show at Javits Center. Because she is the author of the multi award-winning how-to books for writers,The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success, retailers will also find essentials of writing for blogs, Web sites, and newsletters on this blog. She is the author of an award-winning novel, This Is the Place; and other fiction and poetry. She blogs on better writing at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog. Find her tweeting for retailers at @frugalretailing . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use this little green widget to let them know about it:

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