Book Store Battles Giants with Charity
By Tom Ryan
Books in Orleans, Mass. offers a 10 percent discount on any purchase made
from its website. The twist is that the 10 percent discount is then donated
bookstore offers socially aware Internet shopping and a good deal for you!” reads
the website, which just launched in late November.
Don Krohn and Janis Brennan, came up with the marketing ploy after recognizing
that avid readers tend to be more socially aware. The hope is that the
charitable option provides another reason to shop the store when “a lot
of people are torn between shopping locally and saving money,” Mr. Krohn
said to The Cape Cod Times.
The site also
lists a number of charities it makes donations to. These include Natural
Resources Defense Council, The Conservation Fund, International Rescue
Committee, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam America, and the Dana-Farber
Cancer Institute. It also lists two local charities: The Association to
Preserve Cape Cod and AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod.
Even with the
discount, prices at Main Street Books are much higher than its bigger competition.
The article noted that the best-seller “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” by
Stieg Larsson, was available in paperback from Amazon.com for $9.99 with
shipping due to a 60 percent discount versus $15.95 with shipping from
Main Street Books. The price differential was closer on older books. Geraldine
Brooks’ 2007 “People of the Book” was $11 through an Amazon-linked reseller;
$18.97 from Borders; and $16 from Main Street Books.
hopes the online discounts enable the store to reach shoppers who want
to support good causes and small, independent bookstores, or to connect
to Cape Cod.
“It does sound
contradictory,” Mr. Krohn said. “Shop locally and shop online.”
Canada’s independent bookseller McNally Robinson announced it would file
for bankruptcy protection and close half of its retail outlets. The book
seller blamed the “recession, stagnant book prices, steep discounting,
and increasing competition from internet sales and electronic text formats.”
Questions: What do you think of Main Street Books’ online marketing push
touting charitable discounts? Are smaller stores able to tap the charitable
connection better than larger stores? What other innovative ways can
local book stores differentiate themselves from Amazon and larger book