Survey results – Labour Book of the Month

I’ve now closed the survey which got 490 responses out of about 1,700 people who were asked to participate — an extraordinarily high rate of response, which is good and shows that people are interested in what we do and that there may well be reason to continue selling books to trade unionists.  You can see a summary of the results here (there is no password protection here as it doesn’t show the nearly 300 individual comments).

In this short post, I want to focus on next steps — on things we should be considering in light of what we have learned.

As so many people commented on the price UCS was charging (and other problems, such as the lack of information about the book), I decided to look at a couple of alternatives — the unionized Powells book shop  and Amazon, both of which were for years our partners in selling books.

UCS sells the book for $17.95, Powells for $12.50 and Amazon for $12.24.  Powells also offers free shipping on orders of $50 or more.  (UCS charges the full price for shipping.

LabourStart earns 10% on a UCS sale, so make $1.79 on every title sold.  Powells pays 7.5%, so had we sold the books there, we’d have made $1.35 for each one sold.

As Amazon is an anti-union company, it may be worth considering doing some or all of our books of the month with Powells.  Or dealing directly with publishers.

Because many of the people who responded do not live in the USA, we need to into options that are cost-effective for them.  We’re already exploring UK bookstores, but need to look into other options.

Please post any of your thoughts on this subject as comments here.  Thanks.

I asked our intern, Edd, to write up a summary of what he learned from reading through the survey and the hundreds of comments — here’s what he came up with:

The most common comments are:

It’s too expensive with shipping costs for people outside the USA.

Problems with PayPal, especially for people who don’t have credit cards.

lot of people complain that they can’t see a preview of the book – like a page or an image from it. I think people expect to be able to see this more and more before they make an online purchase.
People seem to want more information generally, for example on shipping charges, or how much the US dollar price is equivalent to in their own currency. Also a lot of people wanted to know the age range it was appropriate for (saying “children’s book” is apparently not specific enough).

The significant number of people saying they were undecided (32%) suggests that reminders might be worthwhile, as long as we weren’t spamming people.

Quite a few people saying they don’t buy books through the internet. There’s not much we can do about that, except (thinking for the UK) if we had a partnership with a bookshop that has a physical presence, we can point people to that bookshop to give them the option of buying it there.

A few people said they wanted their local library to stock it – could we make an effort to sell to libraries? In fact a number of respondents to the survey said that had talked to their local libraries about stocking it, so maybe this is something we can encourage people to do in future mailouts?

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