The story of the declines in revenue of local independent book sellers to Amazon and Barnes and Noble has been sad to witness. But luckily, people who work around books all day tend to be smart and quick to adapt. Ken Sanders has been in the book business for nearly 40 years, and he has proven to be an expert in business survival.
About two years ago when the economy started to go bad, Ken Sander’s Rare Books was struggling financially. Fortunately, their online storefront started to take off, and it saved them. They now do about 30-40% of their monthly sales online.
Melissa and Michael: What makes our online store different is the customer service we offer. For example, when we ship books, we take the time to wrap them up carefully in brown paper, which is something most online booksellers would never do. It’s a little thing, but it means a lot to people. We have had a lot of repeat customers online, which is unusual in our business. In fact, we have people from out of town who have bought books from us fly in and come visit us.
Online book sales have many benefits. They give us access to a wide variety of customers, and they give buyers access to our otherwise somewhat obscure collections. Our online store also allows the disabled or handicapped a way to patronize us without having to physically come down to our location.
There are downsides. It costs a lot of money to run an online bookstore, and people miss out on the ambiance and atmosphere or coming into a neat store with books piled to the ceiling. We get so many people who come in and tell us how much they love the smell of books. You can’t get that online.
Christmas Wishlist: This year I want a new barcode scanner!
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