#17 Bring books to events

NEIBA Question of the Week #17

The NEIBA Board members are starting a Question of the Week on the NEIBA Group at Yahoo! Groups (our Listserv). The goal is to share everyone’s common knowledge about bookselling or anything related to independent bookstores.  It is our hope that after the Board has run through with their questions other members will continue the asking.

This week’s question is:

Hope everyone’s July is off to a rocking start. We are doing a few large off site events this month and wondering how one responds to people wanting to come to the event bringing their own books purchased somewhere else. Our tickets include the new book but some people have asked about coming either with their own book (sometimes saying that they purchased it on Amazon) or bring the author’s backlist which they bought a few years back. We hate to turn people away or even reprice the ticket without the books since the whole point is to sell books at the event.

Any feedback is appreciated.

Thanks – Annie, Bank Square

Michael Herrmann, Gibson’s Bookstore

That is an EXCELLENT question. It’s hard to establish a firm policy. But for larger events that we have offsite, like you, we have started to have one of the author’s new books included in the price of the first ticket they buy. If they buy more than one ticket, they don’t have to buy more books. But we figure that if folks want to see a famous author at an event we have organized, then they –either a family or a small group of friends–should be willing to buy at least one book from us. It’s all we ask. Then they can bring whatever else from home they likeundefinedor buy other titles from us at the event, which of course is our preference..

We only had one group of people complain publicly about this at our last major event. Our of six people who wanted to come see a major author at an offsite event, not one wanted to buy the book from us. Two were Kindle users, two were library users, and two wanted to buy the book at Walmart and come anyway. They complained via Facebook to the author, who then opened up a very productive and respectful dialogue with us. We stood firm and the author was convinced. She was sorry to disappoint her readers but she understood the dynamics of the event, and she ended up thinking the complainers were being unreasonable.

Whatever policy you have, it has to be based on the idea that the sponsoring bookstore is adding value to the eventundefinednot least for organizing it in the first place!– and deserves compensation. The policy is a message to the public and a commitment to the publisher that we want to sell as many of their books as we can.

Discounters are free riders in so many ways. We don’t need to give them another one!

Kathryn Fabiani, RJ Julia Booksellers

Annie – when the book is included in the ticket, and an attendee does not want the book from us, we give them a gift card for the book amount so they can buy something else from us some day. Or we suggest (in a very nice way) that they can give the extra book as a gift to a friend….

Becky Dayton, Vermont Book Shop

I would tell people that the price of admission includes a book, and that they may bring up to two others to be signed if they wish. If they argue, just repeat, “the price of admission includes a book.” They can certainly choose to give it away if they’ve already got a copy for themselves.