For over twenty years Verso Advertising has focused on helping publishers market their books. Their initial 2010 digital survey of book-buying behavior surveyed over 9,000 people. Adults (age 18 and over), who used the Internet and who chose to respond, were surveyed.
Here’s what the survey found out about leakage. Leakage means that a customer uses services or information from one source, in order to buy goods from another source.
More than 26% of people surveyed browse at their favorite independent bookstore and then buy books they've discovered there online or at chain stores. Some 10% of customers of independent book stores do this frequently, and the phenomenon is more pronounced among book buyers aged 18-34. More than a third of this age group have browsed at an independent book store but bought elsewhere within the past year. Such sales leakage could be costing independent book stores more than $260 million in sales and 1.8% of market share.
I have to admit that, on this one, I go the opposite way. I find information on line about books, and then contact my local independent bookstore to ask if they can get the book for me.
But I don’t come up so good on a couple of other habits. I realized the other day how much I’ve started taking for granted some talented and hard-working people who help me survive as an author.
I use my local library a lot. Right now I have four books checked out, ten requested as holds, and one on its way to me through interlibrary loan. That’s a pretty typical week. In the past year, my total contribution to the library has been the cost of one library card and some odd change dropped into the “Help us buy books” box at the checkout counter.
Wikipedia? I spend more time there every day than I do eating, exercising, or exchanging e-mail with my family. My total financial support, ever, to the Wikimedia Foundation? Zero.
Shareware is computer programs available for free download, with the tacit understanding that if you find a program you like and use, you will pay the people who wrote the program in a modest sum, usually $5 to $15 for a one-function program, and $15 to $30 for larger programs. I’ve lost count of the number of shareware programs that I’m using without having paying any money to their creators.
I know the arguments. These are tough economic times. I’m on a fixed income. My taxes pay for libraries. It’s such a hassle to pay five dollars through PayPal. Those geeks created something because they like doing it, so they don’t need to be paid.
Like heck they don’t.
If I look forward to being paid when I’ve done a good job, what makes me think that I don’t owe something to other people when they do a good job?
In the immortal words of Robert Heinlein, "There's no such thing as a free lunch." I may not be able to buy the full-course meal for everyone, but I think I'll go treat a few people to a some appetizers.
Quote for the week:
In the present circumstances, no one can afford to assume that someone else will solve their problems. Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction. Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged.
~Dalai Lama, Head of the Dge-lugs-pa order of Tibetan Buddhists, 1989 Nobel Peace Prize