Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Advances in Bookselling Metrics: The Saltometer

Looks like we may have a major snowstorm in New York and the Mid-Atlantic in the next few days. Bad weather is always tough on retailers, bookstores included. But I learned from the excellent bookselling blog, Shelf Awareness, that at least one bookstore has found a hidden benefit to winter precipitation: a new customer "metric."
Although the current trend in bookselling is toward ever more computerized inventory control systems, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis., shared its unique customer tracking device, known as the Saltometer:
"When there's a heavy snowfall in Milwaukee, it means one thing: massive piles of salt on the sidewalks of our fair city," noted the Boswellians blog. "We here at Boswell welcome it, of course. Not only does it keep the sides of Downer Avenue clear for pedestrians (come on by and see us!), it allows us booksellers to use that most hallowed of marketing tools: the saltometer. What is the saltometer, you ask? It's a highly sophisticated system by which we can look at the white-lined footprints all over the store and see what sections are really the most popular. Sure, we know what books you're all buying, but what about the books you read while you linger in the store on a frosty evening? Yes, the saltometer is the bookseller's friend."
New York City is not supposed to be hit very hard by the storm. I'm secretly disappointed. What could be better than getting snowed in for a day or two with a big pile of books to read?

(Photo of Washington Street, Providence by Jef Nickerson from Flickr)