Why Does Wal Mart Sell Books?

Serious question. I can name one person off the top of my head who I know buys books fairly regularly from Wal Mart. I’ve definitely done my share of browsing the books at Wal Mart, but my memory tells me I’ve never actually bought a book from there. I usually just look to see if I know which books they’ll have in stock without even thinking about it.

If I set up my tripod near the books and threw Harry’s invisibility cloak over the top of it I’d see just how few people actually stop to take a look at them. I own something like 250 books. But when I think of Wal Mart I think of groceries, essentials, and TVs.

I’ve bought books from Barnes and Noble, Borders, Amazon, Half Price Books, Murder by the Book in Houston, and the Wal Mart website. We have so many options at this point that I just don’t see any benefit for a grocery store to sell such a limited number of books. They sell mega bestselling new releases and ultra popular older ones. The problem is that just about anyone who’d be interested in buying these particular books has bought them elsewhere.

Also, Target does a MUCH better job with their books than Wal Mart does. Better titles and better selection in every store I’ve been in. But still, I haven’t bought from there either.

My question still stands. Why does Wal Mart sell books? 

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Ever Been to a Library Sale

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I’ve heard and read about library sales quite a bit. But I’ve never been to one. I’ve never even heard of one happening around here…until now. There’s one happening at one of the libraries in my system right as this post is being published. It’s from 9:00AM – 2:00PM today and the article I read said that books are at “bargain” prices. I’m intrigued.

I definitely want to go. But I have work during the exact hours of the sale, plus an hour. How unfortunate. I’m curious to see how these things play out. The closest thing I’ve ever been to (I think) would have been when my neighborhood Borders closed a few years ago. They were having a “blowout” sale during the final weeks of the store’s existence. But if I’m being honest, I don’t think 30% off is that significant. That’s basically Amazon every single day. I think I bought three books that day. Or five. But I was unsatisfied because their selection was already about half of what the Barnes and Noble over here carries, and the shelves were entirely unorganized because of the sale. It was the only time I’d ever seen people in line at the store. Is that what happens at library sales? Books all over the place? And people all up in your personal space? Maybe I’m not missing out on much.

BUT I’m thinking of sending someone to the sale in my place. Maybe I can just give them a list of authors and say go find these? Ha. I sound like a horrible, bossy person. But I’m always looking for new books. Especially cheap ones. Have you ever been to a library sale? What was it like?

OH MY GOODNESS! I just went to the branch website and they have typewriters for public use!

PS: I just found a website that tells you when library sales are happening all over the country. You can search by state and find when your local library is having a sale. It’s called Book Sale Finder.

Do You Have a Favorite Indie Bookstore?

Last year sometime I asked about favorite bookstores. But I was talking more about Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Borders, Books A Million, or whichever major chain you have near you in which you get your books. But now I’m only talking indies.

I have to first be honest, I very rarely shop in my favorite indie bookstore. It’s just too expensive for me. I buy all of my books new, but doing so there would be ridiculous. So there, that’s out of the way.

My favorite is a store called Murder by the Book in Houston. It’s been around since the 80s and they host a couple hundred author events every year, mostly for crime writers. And these events are well attended. I’ve only been to two, but I’ve seen pictures of others in which there were people lined up outside. Besides all the events the store hosts each year, one of my favorite aspects is the feel when you walk in. I mean, the Barnes and Noble a few miles away from me is nice. I just went for the first time in over a year last week. But it still has that store feel. At least for me. Murder by the Book feels more…like your neighbor’s house with a lot of books. I think. It’s hard to describe. And the people are rather nice.

Anyway, that’s all about my favorite indie bookstore. Here are a couple pictures from inside Murder by the Book.

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Tell me about your favorite indie bookstore.

Your Favorite Bookstore

ImagePhoto Credit: BookRiot

There once was a time in which a reader had many options as to where to buy his or her next book, at least here in the US. We had Borders, and Barnes and Noble, a number of indie bookstores, Book-A-Million, and then of course, Amazon. Okay, that wasn’t quite as many as I thought, but let’s move on. I’ve pretty much gone through every bookstore I have over here at some point in time.

Way back in my high school years when I first started buying books for myself, I’d go to Barnes and Noble and do what millions of others do everyday, I’d find my next book. I wouldn’t go with a specific author in mind or a book or anything. I’d just browse the mystery section and take a chance on something that caught my eye. But this didn’t last. Barnes and Noble charges full list price for books, and I can’t be the only one who doesn’t have eight or nine dollars every time I want to buy a paperback. So I switched.

Then came the days of going to Borders. This was in the year or two leading up to their bankruptcy. They would email me coupons every week for 30-40% off any item. I mean, yes, please! AND if they didn’t have the book in store, I could order online and have it delivered to the store for free. I remember getting several books for a whopping $5.21 after the discount. I know I’m an author and all that, but you CANNOT pass that kind of deal up. But then the company closed its doors and I made a dash to the store located about seconds from my house. I think I bought five books that day.

Then came Amazon. See, I knew I didn’t want to go back to Barnes and Noble, but I’d never bought anything from Amazon before. My apprehension soon faded when I realized that Amazon had a buy 3, get fourth free deal on millions of paperbacks! It was almost too good to be true. But I took advantage of this deal more times than I can possibly recount now. And I thought four books at a time was the perfect number. But then like all good things in life, the deal came to an end. It was roughly at the start of 2013 or the end of 2012 that they did away with the deal. I’ve read on forums that people were livid that Amazon could do this. I wasn’t all that upset, Amazon is a business, right? Imagine the millions of free books they’d given away during the time of their promotion.

Then came another switch. I’d known forever that Wal-Mart sold books online, I’d even bought one before several years ago. But I never knew how cheap they were! Wal-Mart was cheaper than Borders (with their coupons) and Amazon with the 4-3 deal. How!? Around the holiday season last year, they ran a promotion in which all books available in their online store were 40% off. That meant that most titles would drop to $4.79! Yes, I was in heaven. And yes, I bought a lot of books before that promotion also eventually ended. Now I’m back with Amazon. But I no longer buy three or four books at a time. Mostly just one or two. Which is fine since I’m hardly reading anyway.

So now you know my journey through all the bookstores I’ve known, what’s your favorite bookstore?

Is Amazon Good for Books?

ImageBefore I begin I would first like to make it known that I am a huge fan of Amazon. The paperback edition of my book is sold by CreateSpace and the Kindle version is sold by Kindle Direct Publishing, which are both Amazon companies. But I’ll try to be objective.

I’ve read several articles recently about the impact that Amazon has had on the publishing industry. Most often the takeaway seems to be that Amazon is not good for books for a number of reasons like the discounts they receive from publishers or how low they’re able to sell their e-books. There are plenty more but there’s no need for me to be exhaustive at this point.

Jeff Bezos started the company all the way back in 1994 as a bookstore. In the 20 years since then independent bookstores have been cut in half and the mega-chain Borders has shut its doors. But is it really smart to blame Amazon for both or either of those? Maybe. But what about the fact that indies were always under fire from big chains like Barnes and Noble and Borders? Or what about the fact that most indie bookstores have no place in the e-book market? Amazon is constantly blamed for the failure of indie bookstores in recent years, but there’s always more to it.

Several articles estimated that roughly seven percent of all of Amazon’s annual revenue comes from books, which puts the number around $5 billion. It’s easy for critics to throw that number out there and make a fuss about Amazon’s bookselling practices because they seem to be doing it better than any other company at the moment. But let’s think about what they’ve managed to accomplish to help the reader. First, the customer will  never pay list price of a book on the site, no matter if it’s hardcover or paperback. Compare that to walking into your neighborhood Barnes and Noble bookstore and paying exactly what it says on the back cover. Second, the selection that Amazon is able to offer is far and away the most vast there is in the world today. Most readers have experienced the turmoil of wanting an obscure book that may be long out of print only to find that Barnes and Noble doesn’t have it online or in-store. And third, if Amazon didn’t have a place in the bookselling world then what would stop Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million from selling books at cover price. Or Kobo or Apple from selling e-books at higher prices. I mean, all four companies already struggle to compete with Amazon in the book marketplace, but they are competing.

Amazon also has several publishing imprints that operate just as any other traditional publisher and back the most lucrative book writing contest in the country, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, which gives its grand prize winner a $50,000 publishing contract along with several $15,000 publishing deals given out to the genre winners.

Lastly, Amazon revolutionized the publishing world with its Kindle. No company has been able to develop an e-reader quite like it, which is why Amazon holds a roughly 67% percent e-book market share.

I’m not here to defend Amazon, but I would like for the site’s critics to be fair. Amazon’s competition in the marketplace helps drive prices of all books down for the reader. They changed the publishing world when they released their Kindle e-reader which has evolved into a full-use tablet comparable to any other. And they offer a selection of books that no other company can. So if I had to answer the question as to whether or not Amazon is good for books, well I think you know my answer by now. Yes.