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"Mail this card today and you will not lose this extraordinary offer!"
Ingrid Carroll, editor
Bonniers Bokklubb

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In the BA list of members you will find all the quality bookshops in Sweden. Buy your books really cheap in the neighbourhood bookshop!
Swedish Booksellers Association

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A vintage study:
Bokklubbar och bokvanor
(Book clubs and book habits)
Rapport frn 1982 rs bokutredning
(Ds U 1983:16)

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More about books, reading and book trade in "Swedish booksellers in partnership with schools and libraires" (no 2), "A Christmas greeting for the bookshop" (no 7) and "Pioneer study by children's librarians from the Nordic countries" (no 9).

 
Hard Rain    No 12    January 30, 2006
Become a book club member - a convenient way to pay a little more for your books

Many book club members realize that they buy at least one book which they don't want to buy. That erases the whole discount. If you buy "four books for the price of five" you pay a high price for your cheap books.
 
After Christmas and New Year holidays, as usual, we see the attractive offers from the book clubs emerge. It has been said that the clubs are dying, but they don't seem to give up. It seems to be a little tough, though, as nowadays not only book reading women but also one or two men receive the dainty offers.

Hard Rain has looked into the reasons why the clubs are so attractive. It is a short list of four items. The account is based on talks with book club members and different people in the book trade, such as publishers and booksellers.

The result is perhaps a little surprising. It shows that it is absolutely not the book club members who profit from buying their books through the club. But the clubs are certainly very attractive - for the owners, i.e. the big publishing companies. This is the list:

1. Price comparisons

When Bckernas Klubb writes "You will always get a 40% discount compared to the bookseller's ordinary price" it is completely false in different ways. The bookshop has no ordinary prices! There is the publisher's price to the bookshop, and that price is then transformed into a recommended retail price. That is a different thing.

Furthermore there is no evidence that the book club price is always lower than the price in the bookshop. With free prices and ultra hard competition it could be just the other way around.

On top of the price of the book there is an extra 37 SEK (4 ) for postage and package. This doesn't make the book any cheaper.


Gunnar Hllander, Clown 1942

  2. Introduction offers

A new member in Bonniers Bokklubb is greeted with a down waistcoat, a rucksack, walking sticks and a cookbook. He/she may also buy two books for 19:90 (2 ) each. The offer is said to be worth 1 729 SEK (190 ). Bckernas Klubb, in order to stay in the race, gives away five books of your choice for 1 each. The new member is said to save 1 264 SEK (140 ).

You cannot ask of a person who falls for these "fabulous offers" to think about the distrust created elsewhere by these examples. It is evident, in a longer perspective, that the book trade and especially the bookshops get a serious blow.

The reader with Carlos Ruiz Zafn's marvellous Vindens skugga (The shadow of the wind) in his hand discovers astonished that his Christmas gift costs only 1 . The donor shakes his head after having paid 22 in the bookshop (a good price) and feels cheated. The bookseller who wants to keep the customer sighs in despair.

3. Demands on the member

In order to show his gratitude towards Bckernas Klubb the new member has to buy two books during the first six months. In Bonniers Bokklubb the demand is three books during the first year. And then? Yes, in the letter from Bckernas Klubb you can read this: "Most members stay, enjoy themselves and order our books for many years. So in the end it is profitable both for you and us. "

4. Cheap - but expensive

What about this calculation about cheap books? The faithful book club customer buys his book for club price, even though the book might as well be found in the local bookshop for the same price or better. On top of that comes postage cost. But that is not all. Consider this:

Many members realize, when they look over last year's purchases, that they bought at least one book that they actually didn't want to buy. And if that is the case, the whole discount is gone. If you have bought "four books for the price of five" you have paid a high price for your cheap books.

These items show that the book clubs are not completely done. They can still give pleasure to their owners, the publishers, by making it convenient for the reading public to pay a little more than necessary for their books.

Not much is said anymore about the book clubs making a social contribution in capturing new book buyers and readers. It seems that publishers finally have learnt from studies of their own and others that active book club members are the same reading persons who buy books in the bookshop and borrow from the library. But of course, in the book club you can buy your books for a lower, no excuse me, for a higher price.