Different concepts to lure buyers
Rikza Abdullah, Contributor, Jakarta
Bookstores in Jakarta are trying to make innovations in attracting buyers but they apply different approaches in implementing the new marketing concept.
All major bookstores in Jakarta make their books easy to find by labeling their racks with the themes of the books and arranging them in a way that makes it easy for visitors to read their titles and authors. At their windows and entrances, they generally display new arrivals and books of recent interests.
As Muslims consolidate themselves by fasting during Ramadan, for example, The Times Book Shop on the underground floor of Plaza Indonesia in Central Jakarta and the Kinokuniya in the Sogo department store on the third floor display Islamic books, such as those on the translation of the Koran, in their windows and entrances.
But some of them provide facilities for their visitors to read the offered books conveniently, while some others create an atmosphere that will allow visitors to do some observation of the books but not to read them for too long.
The Aksara bookstore on Jl. Kemang Raya, South Jakarta, is one of the stores that facilitate convenient reading for visitors. It provides chairs at the sides of its front section, a leather sofa in the inner room and a carpet with some cushions on the wooden floor of its children's section, indicating that visitors are welcome to conveniently read the books or magazines being offered. Meanwhile, most of the books are left open, without being wrapped with transparent plastic sheets. Even though some of the books are wrapped in plastic, samples are available for reading.
"We know that some of the books may become dirty while being opened and read frequently but let such a risk be on our responsibility," customer service officer Armel said Saturday.
Spokesperson Adinda Simandjuntak said her bookstore wanted to offer pleasant browsing experiences to its customers by assuring that its attendants were not deployed to monitor their activities but to assist them in case they had queries.
QB (Quality Buyers) World Books, which has four outlets in Jakarta, also allows visitors of its outlet on Jl. Sunda, Central Jakarta, to read books or magazines at its internal cafe. Its outlet on Jl. Kemang Raya in South Jakarta is also equipped with an art gallery besides a cafe.
"We design QB World Books for the convenience of book lovers," said director Richard Oh. "We, therefore, leave our books open in spite of the risk of damage."
Besides its outlet on Jl. Sunda and Jl. Kemang Raya, the QB World Books also has outlets in Plaza Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Jl, Sultan Iskandar Muda, South Jakarta, and at the Gema Building on Jl. Thamrin, Central Jakarta.
Hanna Yakin, marketing manager of the Periplus Bookstore, acknowledged that book suppliers, knowing that their customers preferred to buy books that were kept clean and neat, would offer good services by wrapping their goods.
"But a good bookstore must allow its visitors to open and read its books, so that they can choose the ones that they really want to buy," she said. "If it does not want all its books damaged, it should, at least, make samples available."
Periplus Bookstore, with 95 percent of its books imported, operates outlets at the Grand Hyatt and Aryaduta hotels in Central Jakarta, at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in West Jakarta, at Villa Kemang and at Kampung Kemang, both in South Jakarta.
However, the Kinokuniya bookstore does not encourage its visitors to read its books for too long. "We prefer our visitors not to read books for too long because our bookstore is not designed as a reading ground," said corporate affair manager Edwan.
"The books and magazines displayed at our bookstores, therefore, are generally wrapped with transparent plastic sheets. But our attendants will be ready to help open the seals if visitors want to quickly read their contents," he added.
The goods at Kinokuniya, which also has an outlet at the Sogo department store in Plaza Senayan, 20 percent consist of Japanese books, 20 percent Japanese magazines, 25 percent English books, 15 percent English magazines, 10 percent Indonesian books and 10 percent Indonesian magazines.
Major bookstores also organize launching ceremonies or review gatherings for the promotion of new books and at once the introduction of their outlets to book lovers. QB World Books usually prefer to hold gatherings for the launching or reviewing of literature books, while Kinokuniya prefers the review of books being most wanted. At Aksara, ceremonies for the launching or reviewing of books are usually accompanied by live music performances.
"After each promotional event, our sales usually increase by 15 percent," Edwan commented.
To facilitate easy buying, major bookstores also receive orders and offer deliveries through e-mail messages. Some of them operate websites with different features. From the website address www.qbworld.com, browsers can obtain information on newly arriving books and reviews on some recommended books as well as making orders from QB World Books. Other bookstores that operate websites include Gramedia (with the address www.gramediacyberstore.com) and Toko Buku Gunung Agung (www.tokogunungagung.com).
One bookstore at the Ambassador Mall in South Jakarta tried to implement a new method of selling books but it failed to survive due to weak demand. The store, called Ayo-Membaca.com, allowed its buyers to return the books that they had bought within two weeks and regain 80 percent of their purchasing prices. The store then resold the books at 90 percent of the original prices.