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7 Myths of Bargain Books

June 20, 2018

When talking to people at trade shows or looking to break into an account that has never purchased bargain books before, I find there are certain opinions or obstacles that need to be addressed to convince the potential buyer of the benefit of bargain books.


What I hope to do in this blog is to examine seven of those myths or misconceptions about bargain books (in no particular order) and also dispel some of the concerns that a new buyer might have. I realize that many of you who read these blogs don’t need to be convinced of the value and benefit that bargain books add to your business, but I hope you will still enjoy this article and maybe you have a couple more thoughts you want to share about how bargain books have helped you.


1. Front-list sales will be cannibalized

From speaking with book retailers around the world, I can honestly say that this is not the case—what it actually does is enhance your front-list offerings. Let’s face it; new books are expensive. Many of your customers might only be able to afford one or two when paying full price, but when you can add some bargain books at a great value, what you will find is that you can get those additional sales. Or maybe there is a category that is starting to get soft. Cookbooks immediately come to mind as an example, as there has been a decline in this category for years now because of the wealth of recipes available on the Internet.  My opinion is that many customers are not inclined to spend $30 or $40 on a cookbook anymore, but perhaps a value cookbook priced just right in your bargain section will hold some appeal.


2. Bargain books do not support authors

The fact that bargain books do not supply royalties to authors is true, so I cannot refute that argument. However, I do believe bargain books still can strongly support an author, just in a different way. I think this relates especially to the up-and-coming author who is looking to gain a foothold in an industry that is more and more driven by the bestselling authors. For the small authors aren’t well known, maybe someone will pick up a bargain book along the way because it is a good deal. If that person falls in love with the book and becomes a fan of that author, my guess is they won’t wait to see if they can find another bargain book by that author; they will gladly pay the front-list price for the next one.


3. Bargain books are dated

It is true that bargain books are not new releases, and publishers age the books before releasing them to the secondary market. However, over time the publishers have shortened that span up and the books are coming to us much sooner and very much while they are still relevant. There will always be some dated product in the mix, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how much product is pretty recent and still very relevant to your customers.


4. Bargain books are tattered and dirty

This is a point that I can only speak to from our company’s policy on what we sell. You might very well have bought bargain books that arrived in unsatisfactory condition, but I would challenge you to give Book Depot a chance to change your mind. We inspect all our books carefully for damage and do not send out anything that is dirty or tattered. And if you are not happy with the quality of the books you have received, you can contact our customer service department and we will make it right. What we sell are not “brand new” books, as they have been on and off shelves and in and out of boxes a few times. But the quality of the books is still high; we stand behind what we sell and take pride in how we pack and ship our books.


5. There is little profit in bargain books

I could go on for a long time about the profit margin of bargain books—it really is worthy of an entire blog. What I would like to briefly say is that there is great margin in bargain books. They are low-cost but provide big returns. If you buy wisely you can turn over this product fast, create a buzz in your store over the great deals, and double or even triple your money on them. Our core customers have been doing this successfully for many years now and have even remarked to us that while new book sales are a break-even proposition, bargain books bring in the profits. For such a low cost to get into, why would you not give it try?


6. Selection is limited

As of last week I was informed that the title count on our website is sitting at over 70,000 unique titles! We have books in just about every category and genre and access to product from almost every major publisher in the book industry in North America. Selection has never been better. If you have not looked through our website to see what is available, I would challenge you to pour yourself another coffee and be prepared to get lost in the sea of great books that are available to you.


7. Half the order is not filled

Regarding order fulfillment, I can only speak to what Book Depot will promise you. This can be a common complaint of booksellers who have tried buying bargain books in the past. If there are not accurate controls in place to manage inventory, often those desirable books that everyone wants can end up being oversold. Because we are not publishers that can just print more books to fill the orders, we have to make sure we sell accurately. We have worked hard to create systems that accurately show what we have at any given time. When you place an order, your amounts are removed from our inventory and allocated to you so the product cannot be oversold. Our website reflects quantities in real-time, and we even track our fill rate on our website. Coming through Q3 of 2017, our fill rate is just below 99%.


I hope this article may have answered some questions or concerns that you have had about bargain books and I encourage you to add your comments below, or if you have any further questions please reach out to us so that we can be of service to you.


Rick Mechelse

Senior Sales Representative

Book Depot


Ben Archer replied 4 years ago

Now how to get those recalcitrant owners and buyers to read this.
Thank you Rick, this is a great piece.

Rishabh Puri replied 4 years ago

I agree with all your myths of bargain books. thanks for this informative blog post!

Lyle Bauer replied 2 years ago

Do you sale to independent sellers who resell on a variety of platforms rather than owning a book store.

Book Depot replied 2 years ago

Hi Lyle,
If you are enquiring about selling our books online, yes, we do sell to online resellers. We do have some strict restrictions, though, on how you are to list anything you purchase from us online. All product bought from Book Depot is bargain product and must be listed as “used” condition. These stipulations have been placed on us by the publishing industry where we source all of our product. We hold all of our customers accountable to this stipulation, and failure to meet this request will disqualify an account from being able to purchase from us.

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