The following comes from an Oct. 22nd story in Daily Finance.
Steve Peters runs Catholic Books & Gifts, a small, family-owned business that has been in Southern California for 20 years, and he knows what it is like to go head-to-head with Amazon and other online retailers.
[The business was started in Huntington Beach in 1994; it now sits at 9049 Garfield Ave. in Fountain Valley.]
He can’t compete on brand awareness. “The toughest challenge for us with an Amazon or even a Barnes & Noble is that they are well known across the country.” Nor price. “Many times they beat us on price,” he continued.
But he can win on service. Being smaller enables him to have a more intimate relationship with his clientele. “We have a big advantage in a couple key areas. Knowledge and selection,” Peters said. “Even though Amazon is a million times larger than us, they can’t go in and familiarize themselves with each item they carry. That’s our No. 1 advantage. Almost daily, people come in and ask for a gift, describing in detail the person the gift is for. Being able to point customers in the right direction in these situations is a major advantage.”
Peters has also taken the same tack that many small-business owners battling Amazon have by picking a niche market and becoming a specialist. This enables him to stock a deeper selection than the online giant can. “Barnes & Nobles doesn’t carry 10 percent of what we have in stock, and Amazon doesn’t even carry half of the books we have,” Peters said. “So we have customers who come in and find books here that they can’t get anywhere else.”
….But just because he runs a brick and mortar business, that doesn’t keep Peters from mixing it up with Amazon on its own turf. “You can create an account on our website and shop online with us as well,” he said. “We deal direct with many small publishers who don’t want to sell to Amazon because they know they will squeeze all the mom and pop shops.
Peters’ business model echoes the famous words of Hall of Fame slugger Willie Keeler, whose advice to rookies was, “Hit ’em where they ain’t.
To read the original story, click here.
I sympathize with the small booksellers, especially Catholic ones, but “service” has more than one meaning. I was listening to Immaculate Heart Radio the other afternoon when a host, in answer to a listener question, suggested a book by Joseph Ratzinger on the Genesis account of Creation. It sounded interesting, so I had a choice of (1) waiting till the next day or so, driving 12 or 15 miles (through six San Francisco suburbs, albeit on the freeway) to my nearest Catholic bookstore and hoping they would have it in stock, and buying it, or (2) walking to my computer, clicking on Amazon.com, entering Ratzinger In the Beginning in the search window, clicking on the Kindle version, clicking on Buy With 1-click, and closing the site. I walked back into the kitchen, picked up my Kindle and saw that I had the book in my hand. For $9.99. I started reading it (in the large type size that I chose for my old eyes) that evening and finished it not long afterward. (It is very short and, it almost goes without saying, because of the author, is a great one. I recommend it.)
Again, I am truly sorry for Catholic booksellers and they probably do serve a useful purpose, but I thank God I don’t have to compete with Amazon, whose politics, by the way, I hate.
I often call booksellers, including Catholic ones, who are further away to see if they have the book in stock. Often they have websites too. If I use Amazon, I go through good Catholic websites to which Amazon will give some of the money for my purchase, such as homeschooling sites.
And yes, I am often willing to pay more because the service is better at stores, and/or they have everything I want, so why use more gas to go to another store that might not even have it.
GO for it. Amazon funds sinners. When you buy from Amazon you are funding sinners. It is as clear as that. Those who sell their products through Amazon are committing a double sin. According to CCD.
I’m glad Amazon carries Catholic books.
You never know who might happen upon them, and it could change their lives.
Brick and mortar book stores are similar to print newspapers in one respect — technology may render them obsolete. I seldom buy a hard copy book, since most are available electronically, usually at a cheaper price, and I save a tree.
It would be good if every Catholic over age 15 owned their own Bible, and every Catholic home had a paper copy of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”, thus starting (and using) a small Catholic home library.
A Catholic home library is a good goal for families,
In addition, an electronic Bible and CCC can allow one to read it wherever they go.
Christmas is coming up soon. Think about giving these as gifts.
Bible markers are also good so the individual can mark those passages that are most important to them.
Christmas Gifts !
Bible and CCC
Great Idea :)
Many booksellers and Catholic churches sell second hand books. That is another good way to save a tree. I often give books to churches, libraries or sell them at a second hand book store. Often the second hand books stores have a lot of new books too since they get the over stock from other places.
The beauty of shopping at bookstores is that, while browsing, I often stumble across interesting items that I never even considered. This usually results in my purchase of much more than just the book I went there for. Also, if there’s an election coming up, you can usually find pro-life and pro-family voter guides at the counter near the cashier at Catholic Books and Gifts. Amazon may be convenient, but it won’t broaden your knowledge quite like a hands-on bookstore can.
Not really true. Amazon goes to great lengths to suggest other books similar to the ones yu have bought—or even looked at without buying. You are very likely to find something of interest there. (I carry no brief for Amazon. I own none of their stock and am only a customer—and, as I said supra., I hate their politics. But they are a phenomenon of modern life not quite on a par with Google itself. And Kindle makes it possible for my octogenarian eyes to read books I would never be able to read on paper. Type gets smaller every year.)
I live and shop at this Catholic bookstore in Huntington Beach/Fountain Valley(newer location) . Their website: CatholicFreeShipping.com
Yes, there is something to be said about service and that you get service there can be no doubt. This is one fully stocked Catholic bookstore, crammed full of stuff. However, my exp. with service there is that most of the employees there are old, a bit challenged, and any question beyond basics invariably leads to the blind leading the blind here. Not much help! So in reality, if your question is beyond such as where are the crosses or where are the Saint books, your better off discovering it yourself and learning the store.Much of the older help there truly are not masters of the bookstore there
Contrary to what I just said, I have heard the owner on the phone in a backroom with customers and providing the service this article talks about. So from my exp. if you talk to the owner via email or phone you will get excellent customer service. But walk into their shop, and ask a clerk and you’ll be stumblebumming around led by a clerk, till you both discover the article/book together.
Must disagree. I am a local as well and you are correct regarding the owner. Very versed and knowledgeable. But the staff in front is pleasant and I would not characterize their knowledge as “basic” , just not as deep at the owner’s. They are always friendly on the phone and in person. We travel about 25 miles to go there with our two children under 6 and they are always quick to recommend something new for the kids and also to alert my attention to more esoteric and scholarly items that they know I am interested in. I have built up a relationship with them for the past seven years and as I have gotten to know them, they have gotten to know me and my wife’s tastes and interests in their items. They have also gone out of their way to find things for us that are very difficult to get in the US. I view their age and patience as a definite plus in my experience there. In fact, we are on our way there this weekend to build our daughter’s gift bags for her birthday next month at school. A holy card or two, a ring rosary with instructions (Divine Mercy, too!) a book on the saints and other items that can help a 1st grader build their Catholic faith – it’s a one-stop shopping excursion. God bless them all and we always pray for their continued success.
The nearest Catholic bookstore is 100 miles away from me.
That explains a lot.
I guess you are a dissident. I’m not ashamed of the Gospel or any other Catholic teaching. I do long for the days when men were gentlemen and Catholics were of noble virtue.
I use to shop at the Pauline Media Bookstore in Culver City! But they don’t carry good Catholic Books of Old! So i shop at St. Peter and Paul Bookstore in Wilmington,CA! Run by Norbintine Sisters! Give it a Try! They are willing to find and at times willing to order for you as well!
The Peters’ bookstore is the best Catholic store I have ever had the pleasure to visit. Just one question for Gil, if you hate the politics of Amazon so much, why do you shop with them?
I love Catholic bookstores, but 10 years of giving away thousands of free Catholic gifts at our annual county fair, and later at church, has me wondering if most of them should relocate to their local parishes or even become mobile and parish-hop. 1) A majority of Catholics (AMOC) will never visit and support a Catholic bookstore. 2) AMOC do not read 300 page books. 3) AMOC have not been adequately evangelized. 4) AMOC need to be offered free Catholic materials such as Rosaries, holy cards, pamphlets, booklets, and CDs. 5) A parish bookstore can consist of dressed up folding tables where Mass-exiting Catholics can find them. If necessary, set up an outdoor tent when weather permits. 6) The location and overhead cost of a bookstore has too often been an impediment to effective Catholic evangelization. 7) If wealthy Catholics would stop buying brand new cars and paying for expensive, annual vacations, America and the world could be a much better place!