I love to visit The Strand bookstore when I visit NYC: so many books, so many choices. And I’ve bought OOP and used books from the online store.
Having said that, I must confess that their marketing slogan, “Real books lower priced than ebooks!” seriously irritates me. Whenever I see it in the store, I roll my eyes and walk past. It appeared in the subject line of an email yesterday, and has really stuck in my mind since then.
The Strand makes money selling paper books, rare and common, old and new. Ebooks aren’t something they sell or deal in at all. I understand why they want to grab potential book buyers and their attention and their spare cash. But calling paper books “real” implies that ebooks aren’t. The nature of an ebook is a philosophical and legal question that can be debated for hours. But what this slogan says, in so many words, is that the medium of the story being told is more important than the content. Is that really the message an advocate of books/reading/literacy wants to send?
IMO, it will alienate ebook readers while pandering to readers who value the object over the content and who feel superior for their paper choice. I don’t know, maybe their market research tells them that their customer base is not composed of ebook readers, so the slogan will work. (It must be working — it’s been in use for several months at least. Maybe The Strand is a brand that doesn’t need technology, or maybe its customer base is made of hipsters who love the retro aspect of reading paper books?)
There are always going to be people who want paper books. And other readers who prefer ebooks. And people like me who read both.