Maslow’s Theory & Bookstores

February 24, 2011

Categories: Independent Book Stores, Maslow's theory

Trying to understand why David (Readings) won against the Goliath of Borders in Carlton, I checked out old Maslow’s theory to look for answers.

It just doesn’t seem to make sense that a buyer, given the choice, would rather access books at a higher price from a store 50 metres away as in the Readings/Borders case in Carlton. Isn’t the world today driven by economics? Cheap is good, right?

I had to go to the top of Maslow’s pyramid to find my answers. Buying books is not like buying life’s essentials such as food or shelter. (Or though, some of us might argue otherwise.) Buying books is an experience, rather like going to the movies instead of staying home and watching the same thing on pirated DVDs. You want the experience of going to a beautifully designed store, filled to the brim with books (but not so full that you can’t find anything) with helpful staff who will engage with you in discussion about A book over B book. Buying books in a supermarket or chain store is like buying the weekly groceries. Definitely not the same experience, though if that’s the only option you have to get near a book, then go with that I say.

So, price isn’t everything. (Gasp! What!) It is certainly a factor, but only one that I take into account when buying my books.

2 Responses to “Maslow’s Theory & Bookstores”

  1. Josette says:

    Great analysis. I always say that I could spend days in my local independent bookstore without food or water. There's something about the friendly environment that reminds me of the local library where I used I used to spend hours as a child.

  2. karen tayleur says:

    Hi Josette, I always liked the idea of a bookstore with access to coffee and cake, but I was always a little worried about stains on new books…

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