Store demographics: wild guess.

Dave Cline asked the following:

"Have you ever done any demographic analysis on your clientele?

I'm just wondering who in the world buys books from a book store these days?

Are they mostly vacationers, tourists, passersby who are way from their Amazon address and need a book to pass the time?

Or locals who are wandering downtown and have a nostalgic flashback about perusing a real-live-smelling bookstore?


My answer such as it is:

So you got me thinking, Dave. Demographics are complicated.

If you include "locals" as meaning Central Oregon, and "tourists" as everyone else, that still doesn't tell the story.

Probably a more accurate way to look at it is how many of the customers are there as a "destination." That is, they have come into the store to shop and do so on a regular basis.

Locals who infrequently come downtown, for instance, are more like tourists.

So if you include the very casual local browsers as tourists, I think it breaks down as follows, very, very roughly.

Comics and graphic novels: 30% tourists.
Magic: 30% tourists.
Toys: 60% tourists.
Boardgames: 50% tourists.
Books: 90% tourists.

Something like that.

So for books, I really am depending on the appeal of nice books that people want--and some people still want books, believe it or not. Often, I'm often better off with a nice hardcover, even if it's expensive, than a cheap mass market paperback, even though (or because)it takes up the same amount room. (Space always being a premium.)

For readers, the cheaper versions are great, so I have my favorites that I can recommend, and evergreen books that people are always reading.

But for people adding to their libraries, the nicer books, hardback or at least, trade paperbacks, often do better.

I have to admit the whole thing surprised me, but it works great. I don't have to try to be a full-service bookstore, especially with the new bestsellers, which are everywhere. I just have to catch that person who has heard from 5 different friends that "Dune"is a good book, or who have heard of Bukowski but haven't read him, or want to get a copy of that Vonnegut book they remember.