Connie Epstein has an article on Wal-Mart in this month's bulletin for SCBWI - the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I think it is worth placing here, especially since Jane was telling me that in the southern states, Kaiser is setting up offices in Wal-Mart. That way one can shop and take care of their medical care. It sounds efficient, until you read this.
Epstein is writing of the Annual Meeting of the Children's Book Council.
"The second half of the morning was devoted to the Chair's Program, presenting a talk by Charles Fishman, author of The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works - and How It's Transforming the American Economy. The gist of its success, Fishman explained, lies in its ability to undercut the prices of its competitors, and he cited two striking examples. Wal-Mart first began selling groceries in 1990 and 10 years later was number one in the business, which it achieved by eliminating distributors and cutting prices by 15%. Likewise Levi Strauss was able to reverse its downward fall in the blue jean market by joining Wal-Mart in 2003 and designing a product it could sell for $24 instead of $34. But there is a downside, Fishman noted, recalling how his new Levi Strauss blue jeans started to fall apart after two years instead of lasting many years over as they once did.
How these case histories, along with a number of others, connect with the book business gave rise to a lively question-and-answer period. For instance, how much does the quality of a book binding matter? Or what is the value of knowledgeable handselling to the bookstore customer? Everyone seemed to agree that there were no easy answers."
When we watched the Ken Burns documentary on Mark Twain, the camera lovely caressed copies of his beautifully bound books. We enjoyed just seeing them. I suppose we wouldn't want to carry a book like that around with us, and it is lovely to know they exist. The same is true of quality. I hate to see it disappear.