walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

of rats and supermarkets and hardcore clientele

This is a little complicated.

First, Seth Godin posted this wonderful, wonderful (I am not being sarcastic) thing:


Basically, what I keep saying.

I like Godin. I thought his book _The Dip_ was brilliant (altho I didn't keep it, because you really only need to read it once and you've got it for the rest of your life -- part of the brilliance, in fact).

Then there was this lovely post:


(All this h/t Digital Reader, btw.)

Those are great. Read them. Smart posts. No complaints. Here's what I'm mocking:


Matt Hayler does _not_ like the term rats, partly because it applies to him. That's a fair point. Then he requotes Mike Cane:

"The fact remains, changing the terminology, that when your best customers leave, you can’t support a business with casual customers."

And Hayler responds:

"I agree, a business built on casual customers struggles to get going, but I’m not so sure that it can’t be sustained on them. Casual customers support supermarkets for instance (there’s not so much loyalty to a particular brand that people will travel for them, people tend to transition quite well), and I think this is a useful analogy to what music and book stores became long before digitisation."

Honestly? I read that out loud to R., and R. can often think of some weird interpretation to make something _maybe_ make sense. Even R. hit himself on the head repeatedly. If there is a business _defined_ by NOT CASUAL CUSTOMERS it is supermarkets. A C-store located next to a hotel may (not guaranteed, but may) survive on casual customers staying at the hotel. But a supermarket sees almost exactly the same people come one or more times a week to spend the better part of a c-note or more. Every week. Every year. Until they move. And then, odds on, they'll just go to the Stop 'n' Shop or Market Basket or Whole Foods or whatever next to their new home, because they are familiar with the way the aisles are laid out and like the brand names carried by the store and the prices charged for them.

Maybe this guy eats out most of his meals and never goes to the supermarket but once or twice a year. I don't know. But that piece of evidence does _not_ support that argument.

Let's ignore the supermarket thing. It's just too weird.

"Barnes and Borders and Blockbusters and Tower, I believe, are all in trouble because they never catered to a hardcore clientele"


First off, Tower is gone, so "are" isn't the right verb there. Whatever. The rest of them definitely existed to serve repeat customers. What does this guy think the coffee was there for? To help _convert_ people to being repeat customers. I used to be a regular customer at B&N and Borders and, for that matter, back in the day, Tower (I was pretty casual at Blockbusters). I haven't been in a B&N or Borders in months (altho I have been in an independent bookstore within the last month and I bought books, too).

The rest of the post degenerates. There's a bit about how maybe bibliophiles with a good bookstore nearby wouldn't switch to the kindle, which would clearly have to depend heavily on definitions of "bibliophile" and "good bookstore" and "nearby" to be answerable. There's also a truly weird theory of capitalism, and whether small or large is better and more sustainable and which aspects of reality don't count.

As for the bibliophiles? A lot of LibraryThing people converted early. *shrug*
Tags: e-book coverage

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