Amazon's Price Check promotion, and Shopping Local, Shopping Independent
December 8, 2011
To our customers,
Some of you may have heard that Amazon is offering a promotion this weekend where you can get a discount on items from Amazon by using their “Price Check” mobile phone app to scan an item in a physical store, and check Amazon's price for the item. We want to talk a little bit about this, and then make our customers a special offer, as a way of encouraging folks to Shop Local, Shop Independent this holiday season.
We don't think we're telling folks anything they don't already know by saying this, but there's really no need to "Price Check" our prices against Amazon - ours are, and will always be, higher. One reason is that while Amazon can negotiate volume discounts with suppliers when they purchase thousands of a particular item, we can't. Bookworks, as a small, local, independent store, simply does not order products in a volume that would allow us to get steep discounts on the wholesale price of products from our suppliers and vendors.
We also do not, overall, sell in anywhere near the kind of volume Amazon does. Rough estimates are that Amazon handles 4 million sales transactions per day. Bookworks has probably not done 4 million transactions in 27 years of operation! When you sell in huge volumes, you can make less money on each sale and still make money overall. Lower volumes require higher margins in order for a business to break even.
The other reasons our prices are higher have to do with supporting our community, and quality of life for our employees. Here are some of the things we do, that Amazon doesn't:
- We pay state taxes that support our community's public services and initiatives (including roads, public transportation, social services, etc.), which Amazon does not. This is a little-known fact, but because Amazon does not collect taxes in New Mexico, you are technically obligated by NM state tax code to total up all of your Amazon purchases at the end of the year, calculate the tax that you should have paid on those purchases, and pay it to the state when you file your tax return in April. Amazon puts the onus on you to pay the taxes on the goods they sell. Bookworks does not. Amazon's refusal to collect and pay state sales taxes is robbing state governments of millions of dollars that could be used for much-needed public projects, especially when so many states are facing budget deficits due to the economic recession. Read more about this issue here: http://goo.gl/w0DdS
- We pay higher-than-average wages, and give benefits like health care and retirement plans to our full-time employees (who are your friends and neighbors), lessening the local drain on social service programs.
- We donate money and books (to the tune of over $40,000 last year) to local nonprofits and educational organizations, and we support our local libraries, especially their literacy and reading-promotion programs, which have been proven to increase school success for children.
- We are readers ourselves and we actually enjoy reading new books, talking about books, writing about books, and recommending books to customers. We love the “thrill of discovery” and enjoy helping our customers experience that same thrill.
- We love bringing in fantastic authors to share their work with their readers and our customers. We have been bringing great author events to the community for 20+ years. Next month, we will be hosting two of the most popular authors in the country, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. The event will be free, and open to anyone who would like to come and participate. We love author events because we see how excited people get when they can meet and talk to their favorite author. But it does cost us, in money and time (which, as we all know, is money), to put on author events, and since we choose not to charge admission for 99% of those events, we do have to pay for them, one way or another.
- And, we give back to our community however we can, whenever we can. We host school and nonprofit fundraisers, we sell books at nonprofit benefit events and donate a percentage of our proceeds, we work with arts and cultural community organizations to help promote their events, etc.
We appreciate it any time a customer chooses to set foot in our store. We love it when people come in and browse our shelves, and find a great new book. However, when people use our store as a showroom for books, instead of a place to actually purchase books, it takes up time and resources that we have to pay for, one way or another.
We hope you shop at Bookworks because you love the store, you love what we offer the community, and you love reading. We don't want people shopping at Bookworks because they feel sorry for us. We will never beat Amazon on price, and we are never going to try. And, we actually don't mind if you shop at Amazon sometimes! We understand people have a choice where to shop, and we love it when they choose us, even if they choose other sellers at other times.
We also understand economic times are tough – they are tough for us too, both business-wise, and personally – and we understand why people want and need to save money on their discretionary purchases.
So, in order to help make the holidays a little brighter (and more affordable) for our customers, this Saturday, we are offering all customers 15% off their purchases – no coupon required, no minimum purchase, no walking around scanning barcodes with your mobile phone necessary. The 15% off offer is good on all purchases except event tickets, event books, and gift certificates. It’s just our way of saying “Thank you for being our customer, and for shopping with us.” Because we do appreciate your business, and we appreciate your support, for the last 27 years, and for the next 27 (and beyond).
Wyatt Wegryzn and Danielle Foster