Books and Beyond

Marketing in school resembles a bit to math. Counting the number of positive answers to the question “would you buy this if” and you’re ready to go. It is exactly this that distinguishes good from bad management, because the best ideas out there didn’t come from math, they came from understanding customers (and their needs). By leaving it with math companies minimize their growing potential.

I thought a great example of this is bookstores. They have been suffering from big superficial book chains and especially online bookstores like Amazon. Many of them had to close because of not understanding what distinguishes them from these stores. As soon as they saw the prices online, the ease with which you can order and the laziness of the consumer masses they got paralyzed kept everything exactly the way it was and soon found themselves forced to close a little while later.

And yet other book store managers knew that to keep their business booming they needed to innovate; they also knew their customers and their product.An example of this is Carturesti in Bucharest, Romania.


What started out as a bookstore evolved into what I like to call a culture store. The books that you find here stay limited to higher quality books. All sorts of categories can be found but the focus seems to be on culture, traveling, design business but also the usual storytelling is accounted for. Chances of finding somebody that doesn’t speak English here are slim because the offer is quite internationally oriented. And of course attracting a somewhat intellectual public their is no point in stopping with books: You find quality music from countries you never even heard of (the popular offer is quite limited) photos, games and they have art expositions on a regular basis. To top the whole thing of part of the shop is a tea house where you can find an infinite number of types of tea: no better place to read a book, what a coincidence! Being in the city center of Bucharest it is now crawling with students, it is a place that inspires, that makes you curious about what they have. There is no better place to look for the next book you want to read, even not being a typical bookwork I can walk around here all day long.

An episode of Accents d’Europe (french) gave another perfect example:

Lentner in Munich. which also to distinguishes itself by having a particularly high standard of quality and knowledge. And quality is not the same as popular; also lesser known authors can be found here that can not be found on Amazon or Standard bookstores. As a customer you kind of trust them with the first selection and the advice they give you according to your taste and their expertise. In another store they did something a bit more like Carturesti, but they replaced tea with wine.

If your French is good enough listen to this (15 January 2009) and other episodes of their podcast. They have many interesting subjects every week on today’s issues and innovations in Europe. Accents d’Europe is a collaboration of RFI, Deutsche Welle, RTBF, Radio Prague and Radio Roumania International.

Leave a Comment