Book Sellers Complain About Showrooming

In another “well duh” article, last week the Sydney Morning Herald ran a piece on Showrooming trend worries booksellers. Apparently folks with smart phones will wander around a bookstore in the lunch hour browsing the titles on the shelf. When they see one that sounds interesting, they take a photo of the page showing the ISBN number of the book.

It seems that they then go home and buy the books from one of the online book giants where the price of the book plus postage is considerable cheaper than in the bookstore.

Amazing huh? You’d never thing think to do that would you? You’d much rather keep paying the over-inflated prices of the mortar and brick book shops (certainly this is the case in Australia and Singapore). I should note here that the article was written in New York however the practice seems universal.

So, the book stores are blaming the customers for their business heading south – in the same way the record companies blamed their customers for file sharing and not buying the traditional media anymore.

Hel-lo!!! Wake up and smell the hommos guys.

Book prices in Australia are over-inflated because the publishing houses insist on premium prices at Aussie retail outlets to “protect the Australian writing industry”. Crap. If the writing is good, it will be published. If it’s not, it won’t. Let the market decide.

But how can bookstores blame the public for noting the book’s ISBN (or even the spine details) and going home and buying where it is cheaper. I have to wait 7 days for my book that way. I would pay a small premium for instant gratification but the amount asked in Aussie bookstores is just way too high.

In Singapore it’s worse. Kinokuniya is probably the most rapacious bookstore I have ever had the misfortune to visit – and I love book stores. Not only are their prices high (I’ve compared the price of some books here, against Kinokuniya Thailand, Dymocks in Sydney, Book Depository and the publisher and you know what? Kinokuniya Singapore is the most expensive by a country mile. Can anyone tell me why?

It is not just hard copy books either. There is rapacious pricing on eBooks – see Why Aussie Retail is Dying for a discussion on that.

So, all you naughty, naughty people out there, those of you who would have been file sharers were Khazaa and Napster still around in their original form – stop photographing the ISBN numbers. Be discrete, photograph the spine of the book, it’s less obvious, especially when you turn the camera click noise off on your phone 😆

2 thoughts on “Book Sellers Complain About Showrooming

  1. Donogh 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    I have some sympathy for the bookstores, but only some I'm sure there's a barcode scanning app for your smartphone so you don't even have to wait until you get home! 👿

    Of course I just type the ISBN into the notes section of my mobile, and before that I had a notebook. As you say, technology isn't the problem


  2. Mark Webb 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    My better half has an android phone and it has an app that scans the barcode and then checks the prices agains all the local shops. We have used it in Comet on a printer to say "Look in PC world this is £XX cheaper, Can you beat that" For a shop selling technology it seem sto leave the salesperson stunned. They then get a manager who will normally agree to match the price, occasionally beat it. But as Donogh says I used to use a paper and pecil to compare prices before that.


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