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'We know your local market better than you do'

13 March 2006

'Central buying sends out several messages, some of them may even be unintentional. Here's a selection: One: this is what you are going to sell whether you like it or not. Two: we don't trust you in your shop to know what you should be selling. Three: we know your local market better than you do. Four: we know your local solicitor better than you do. Five: we can manage your stock better from the centre. Six: we can organise the promotions better than you can from the centre. Seven: you're a manager, yes, but you are really only there to switch the lights on and off and to relay the team messages to your team. Eight: if the books don't sell, it is your fault, because you weren't committed to them. Nine: it's all done in the name of economics, market share and economies of scale.'

Willie Anderson of the bookseller John Smith in a debate about central buying at the Society of Bookmen, reprinted in Publishing News.