A Bulk E-book Discount Club

Even if not a voracious reader, I’m a voracious book buyer. My scheming mind roams always in search of ideas that will simultaneously reduce book prices, be reasonable for publishes to try as a new pricing model, and not incidentally satisfy my addiction for cheap books. Once I hit on some plausible-sounding ideas, I share them here on Books, Libs, and Scripts in the hopes that the ideas will be snapped up like hot cakes by the major publishers leaving me to wallow happily ever after in a supply of cheap books. Examples of such previous shares include a Netflix model for renting books and a strike price for selling books.

Today, I’d like to share with you my latest hare-brained scheme that, if only implemented, will bring us both unimaginable wealth and fame (like the kind you get when you send your money to a wealthy Nigerian widow). I like to call this the Costco model for selling e-books.

A Costco business model for selling e-books

It works something like this: a customer commits to buy at least X number of e-books from a certain publisher over a period of, let’s say a year. The customer may even pay a “membership fee” a la Costco style or a deposit to make credible this commitment. In return, the customer gets a guaranteed low price on the X or more e-books he chooses to buy. This guarantee can take a myriad of forms. The customer can be given discount of Y% off the current selling price of any e-book, or he can be given whatever has been the book’s lowest price over the last six months, say.

The advantages of such a scheme for the publisher and/or retailer are clear. They get a predictable demand for their wares. They sell books that they may otherwise have not sold since a customer committed to buy at least X e-books will either do so or lose his benefit for a lower price on the books he’s already bought and his deposit. The advantages for would-be members of the bulk e-book discount club are also clear. They get a lower price on books that they buy. Furthermore, knowing the psychology of bibliophiles, the lower price — the sense of a bargain — will justify the additional expenditures in the minds of these shoppers and spur them to buy more than is budget-neutral.

One further note: an advantage that may be a bit more subtle with such a scheme, assuming that it’s carried out at either the publisher-retailer (Random House Kindle books) or publisher level,  is that it helps the publisher captures that elusive reader’s loyalty. Try as publishers may, they never had a brand consciousness among their readers that would drive somebody to buy their products simply because it was published by a certain house. Don’t believe me? Quick, think of your favorite book. Now, who published that book? You would be a rare reader indeed if you knew the answer to that question without taking a peek at the book itself. A reader may purchase a book because of its subject, author, price, or whatever else, but a rare case when a reader shops exclusively among a particular publisher’s wares or is compelled to try a book because of the publisher.

This scheme would change that. It would give readers an incentive to stick with a certain publisher as well as condition them, in general, to look at who a publisher of a book is. And that may be priceless. (OK, probably not priceless in the sense of being worth any price, but at least for the right discount, plausibly profitable, no?)


Image taken from Wikimedia Commons.

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