Our reality check: In January 1975, when we established our bookstore membership with a 10% discount and an annual fee of $5 (as they used to print on Mad Magazine, cheap), the average trade paperback book (the larger size paperbacks that have always made up the bulk of our inventory) cost under $5. Today most of those same books cost between $15 and 20, many considerably more. At that time hardcover books cost between $7.95 and $15; now 2-4 times that. The purchase of 5 to 10 books in a year would earn back the membership fee. Today most memberships pay for themselves with 3 or 4 books; oftentimes with one.
Needless to say, a change is in order. On January 2, 2009, the first day of our 35th year, the annual membership fee will go up to $10 (still cheap).** In addition, certain books will no longer be discounted—those titles defined as textbook or short discount by their publishers. Generally our margin on those books is less than half the margin on the standard books, and we can no longer afford to sell them at a discount. Probably less than 10% of our usual inventory will be affected by this change—most of the books we stock are not short discount (the majority are at the Main Street store). Books that are printed on demand often fall into this category, as do an increasing number of University and academic press titles. Store staff will be able to tell you whether or not a specific book in the store is discounted; usually we can also tell about special order titles, though sometimes we won’t know until the book arrives.
Over these often remarkable years, we have been blessed with and relished the support of this community--thousands of you have become, and many have remained, members over the years. Your support has allowed us to sell books with pride and dignity, and to grow from a tiny seed to two full-fledged bookshops. Over the same time, we have seen the cost of shipping books increase tenfold, the cost of stamps increase five fold, the cost of rent and the cost of paying staff quadruple. Seen in that light, this doubling of the membership fee feels fair, reasonable, measured, and long overdue. We continue to value your support and your friendship, and we will always work hard to be the best bookstore we can in this wonderful city, for the best customers any shop could ever hope for.
** Sorry, no early renewals.