Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Reading While Eating?

by Raelene Gorlinsky

This is from an article about declining profits at chain bookstores, in the e-newsletter Publishers Lunch:

David Schick of Stifel Nicolaus & Co. wrote to clients, "It's fairly obvious the book business is under pressure from surging gas prices, consumer balance sheet repair and reduced traffic to casual dining establishments."

Okay, I get the first - fuel costs are affecting everything. And I think the second reason means we're all feeling the pinch, in debt up to our ears and having to limit our personal spending. But why in the world would eating less frequently at diners or fast food places affect book sales? For me personally, it would have the opposite effect - if I had to choose, I'd give up the Egg McMuffins(r) in order to buy more books.

So, all you imaginative authors and aspiring authors - wanna take a shot at a creative explanation of why "reduced traffic to casual dining establishments" means less profits for bookstores? And are you going to eat out more in order to stimulate book sales?

[Note that I get bonus points for researching and marking that Egg McMuffin is a registered trademark of McDonalds Corporation!]


BriteLady said...

All I can think of is that many big bookstores have in-store coffee shops. Maybe those "in the know" believe that people frequent Borders for their lattes, and only pick up books there on whim?

Tarot By Arwen said...

In answer to your question:

Does "reduced traffic to casual dining establishments" means less profits for bookstores?

I must place my tongue safely in my cheek and offer this:

Well the answer here is obvious, dear Publisher Person. If I can't buy french fries and a shake at the establishment of my choice, I am going to pout.

If I pout, then my lower lip will quiver in a slightly petulant manner. My cheeks will redden and I might begin to sob.

If I cry, then my eyes will overflow with abundant tears trailing down my moderately flushed cheeks.

If my eyes overflow, then I can't see to read.

Therefore, I won't be inclined to buy books due to my waterlogged disposition.

(tongue out of cheek now)

Me, myself and I would rather buy tuna and crackers than go without books. Of course, the high price of gas doesn't bother my book buying habits because I buy green as much as possible. That includes e-books. ;)

Anonymous said...

My best guess is that in addition to the latte factor, if people aren't leaving the house to go to casual dining places, they're also not ending up in the same shopping complex as the bookstores. While we all love books enough to end up at a bookstore *on purpose* there are millions of people out there who only buy books as a whim, a crazy impulse buy that they do only because their blood sugar is low and they've lost their sense of reason.

K, that was also slightly tongue-in-cheek, but seriously, a great deal of the book sales in this country *are* impulse buys, and when the bookstore is next door to dinner, as is often the case with the big chain bookstores, it's just too easy to go get some light reading to make your dinner outing more enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

I can say from personal experience that all of the bookstores we frequent are next to "casual dining establishments." When my family goes to dinner, it almost always ends up that we head to the B&N or Borders nearby for a coffee and after-dinner browsing. At least 50% of the time, we buy at least one book.

I don't know if this is what they are referring to. But in my personal experience, not going out to eat as much will probably reduce the amount the money we spend in bookstores on impulse buys.

Terry Odell said...

I suppose if I had to go to a casual dining place I'd want to bring a book to read. That is, if I was going to one of those places alone. There are a lot of singletons reading books at Panera: Pumpernickel Associates, LLC

But yeah, I don't see the connection.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I'm out and about by myself and have to grab a meal, if I've forgotten (again!) to bring a book with me, I'll find a place to buy one before I'll deal with figuring out where I'm going to eat.

When I eat at home, on the other hand, other people are often around--or the Internet is around!--and I tend not to read books while eat.

Given that, if I eat out less because it costs too much, yes, I'm buying fewer books. (Alternately if I could manage to remember to grab whatever book I'm in the middle of before I head out on errands, I'd also buy fewer books. The economy, though, is in better shape than my memory.)

Natalie Hatch said...

What if people are only buying books so they can hang out in fast food joints to look cool. Sitting there with their latte + muffin with a new Christine Feehan or Terry Pratchett? In case anyone walks past they then can start up a conversation based on the book per say, which will then lead to romance, marriage, babies and the inevitable mortgage crisis.....
Now they can't afford the muffin well, the book buying has to stop too?

Anonymous said...

Whoa. Wouldn't think of eating out without first getting a good read as an apertif.

Anonymous said...

I've always brought a book in to restaurants to read while I eat. I started doing that when I was a teenager, riding my bike to the local diner to splurge and get a sandwich and read a book. I still do it sometimes, but much less often now that I'm married.

I do eat while I read at home sometimes, but I prefer to watch a show while I eat, then read a book once I've finished. Eating is easier with two hands. ;-)

Of course, the real reason could be the rise in the number of readers devouring erotica novels. Who wants to read erotica in a restaurant or coffee shop, where someone might notice your flushed face and rapid breathing? Or where noise might distract you from the movie in your head. ;-D