Just reading through the March edition of The Merchant of Menace, the newsletter of Toronto mystery bookstore Sleuth of Baker Street. It includes an online success story of its own. The Sleuth started an online store a few months ago. According to the newsletter, the owners were surprised about the number of non-mysteries that people ordered through their online shop.
Being a Sleuth customer myself, I think there’s a simple reason. The Sleuth is a great specialized store with outstanding customer service, which includes staff with passion, real knowledge and insights about the authors and books they sell. Those qualities are hard to find in the age of mega bookstores and online-only retailers, and they deserve support. Buying non-mysteries through the Sleuth’s online store is easy and convenient, and an additional way for happy customers to support an independent book store.
The online shop is powered by Canadian software TBM BookManager, which – according to its website – helps more than 400 bookstores across Canada and internationally. The first version of the point-of-sale software came out in 1986, and twenty years later it has a database of more than four million titles and added functionality that lets independent book stores create their own online store.
It may not be the type of Internet business that gets Web 2.0 enthusiasts excited. But to me, this is what much of the power of the Internet is really about – making self-service easy and simple for the interests of individuals and niche markets.
There’s an interview with TBM BookManager founder and president Michael Neil in the March print edition of book trade magazine “Quill and Quire”. I’ll see if I can pick up a copy next time I am in The Sleuth.