Yes I know they’ve been here for a few years now, “imported” into the book lovers’ homes of Dulwich.
Well now you don’t have to leave the SE21 area to be able to purchase one. Yes that’s right we are now selling, along with many other independent bookshops, E-Book readers so that you can buy an E-Book and still support your local bookshops.
We eagerly signed up for the Kobo option, as recommended by the Booksellers Association, and a large box arrived last month from Kobo. On opening the parcel the contents turn out to be quite unlike our normal book deliveries. First off the demonstration device needed charging! You don’t get that with Hilary Mantel’s Bringing up the Bodies. Anyway, we’re committed to selling these devices and so we plugged it in, and left it charging overnight but forgot to leave the connected PC on. So one day later the device has enough power and we now need to register it. (I’m sure I’d have sold at least two copies of a Hilary Mantel in the same length of time.) I was working on my own that day so I needed to wait for a colleague who can sit down at the office PC to work through the registration for the Kobo as well as the online service that supports it.
So another day passes and three days after opening our box of Kobos we are ready to install the demo device on the counter. Now this is another challenge, the device needs to be secured to the counter top in case someone tries to steal it! (You don’t need to secure down a copy of Bringing up the Bodies.) We go in search of the toolbox and then had to figure out where we to screw it onto the counter-top.
Demo device charged and secured to the counter-top and we’re off, as the horse-racing term goes. We have a device, the kobo, to sell to customers who want to read their books on ereaders and still support their independent bookshop. It is a very different experience for us compared to opening a box of books from a publisher and putting them straight on to the bookshelf.
Is it too late, you might ask, for independent bookshops to join the market? Should we just stick to selling the physical books? In an industry survey last week 48% of the leading UK publishers excepted to be selling 50% of their titles in a digital format within 5 years. So you don’t have to have passed your maths GCSE to work out that with 50% of the market no longer available to sell as a physical book, bookshops need to ensure that they can access the E-Book half of the market.
What will happen when we sell a device? Hopefully it will all go smoothly for the customers, however I have been assured that there is an excellent after sales service at the end of a telephone. Only time will tell how we fair in this endeavour and maybe by the next article I will have some more tales to share of selling the Kobo.