Reading into Our Couch

So I had someone ask me the other day if I was going to just let people sit in the shop and read if they weren't going to buy anything. You may have noticed from the pictures of the store that we've got a little reading area set up with a comfy couch and chair, plus couple more chairs by the door. As I'm sure you could guess from our decision to set the store up that way, I don't have a problem with people reading in the store (assuming they don't damage the product in the process). My general philosophy is that someone either wants to own a book or not. If they do, they'll either buy it or steal it. So long as I curtail the stealing part, that leaves my customers as those who want to own the book. What reading the book does (rather than just flipping through with several furtive glances at the cashier to make sure he doesn't think you're trying to read the whole thing in the store) is allow the customer the opportunity to change their mind. On occasion that means that they will be disappointed and not purchase the book, on other occasions they will like what they see so much that they'll buy the book (and possibly other related books). I'd rather have someone buy less this visit but feel good about those purchases when they return next time.

Even those customers who choose not to buy a book after reading some or all of it are likely to then spend that money on something else. Seeing as they are already in the store, its fairly likely that they'll get another book and even more likely that they'll feel comfortable enough to come back later and find out if they want to buy something else. And when that next Scott Pilgrim that they just have to get comes out, I feel like they'll come to MacGuffin because we've made it comfortable for them to be in the store.

Then there are those customers who, quite frankly, can't afford to buy as much as they would like. That doesn't mean, however, that they never will be able to afford everything that they would like to buy. Going back to the last point, it may build up a small bit of loyalty to MacGuffin if they don't constantly feel the pressure to buy something when they are in the store. And when they have the money to get more, hopefully they remember us as a nice place to shop.

Our philosophy goes against common sense for some retailers, but a big part of what we're trying to accomplish here is changing the notion of what a comic book store is. Every store owner has the right to set up whatever restrictions they feel are necessary in their store, but you will see a PLEASE READ sign before you will ever see a NO READING sign in MacGuffin.

3 Comments:

Blogger jingyang said...

Well, speaking only for myself of course, I am already buying as many comics as I can afford to. I also largely preorder and try to concentrate my pre-orders on books that I feel either a/ I want immediately they come out, or b/ ones that will prove darn difficult to find otherwise. For instance, it is highly unlikely that I would have found "Streets of Dublin" on the shelf of my LCS. When all is said and done, there are far more books out there now than I can even hope to read, let alone buy.
If I picked up a single or a TPB in your store and sat reading it on your couch, if I thought it was brillant, then I probably would buy it as soon after as I could. Otherwise it may simply go on my long list of "books I would like to buy when I am stupidly rich".
A parallel would be in the argument over downloading music. Music companies are NOT losing by my downloading, cos I am already buying as much as I can afford to anyway.

4:45 PM  
Blogger jingyang said...

Well, speaking only for myself of course, I am already buying as many comics as I can afford to. I also largely preorder and try to concentrate my pre-orders on books that I feel either a/ I want immediately they come out, or b/ ones that will prove darn difficult to find otherwise. For instance, it is highly unlikely that I would have found "Streets of Dublin" on the shelf of my LCS. When all is said and done, there are far more books out there now than I can even hope to read, let alone buy.
If I picked up a single or a TPB in your store and sat reading it on your couch, if I thought it was brillant, then I probably would buy it as soon after as I could. Otherwise it may simply go on my long list of "books I would like to buy when I am stupidly rich".
A parallel would be in the argument over downloading music. Music companies are NOT losing by my downloading, cos I am already buying as much as I can afford to anyway.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Sam Hobart said...

You pretty much confirm our thoughts on the matter, that allowing customers to read in the shop will improve sales in the long term because they are likely to find more title they are genuinely interested in if offered the opportunity to see what they're buying ahead of time (incidentally, we do have "Streets of Dublin" on our shelf, though we're not exactly down the street).

7:32 PM  

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