Brand building through storytelling

What one reader had to do to buy a book

There ought to be an award for a reader so tenacious, she’ll spend six weeks tracking down a copy of a book. Not a signed first edition of The Great Gatsby(dust jacket intact, every page pristine) but My Mother’s Daughter by one Rona Maynard, available online in paperback for $15.19. Now, you might think online bookstores exist to sell books to people who want to buy them and have gone so far as to type their credit card number in a handy little box. O ye of too much faith!

Jane Langille, a frequent visitor to this site, has just filled me in on her efforts to buy My Mother’s Daughter. Who knew it could be so complicated?

July 4: Jane logs onto Chapters Indigo’s website, orders my book.

July 22: receives e-mail explaining that the book is temporarily out of stock, has been reordered from another supplier and will likely ship within two weeks.

August 18: phones customer service. Rep says My Mother’s Daughter is still showing as out of stock, promises to investigate. Follow-up e-mail says initial supplier ran out and the book should be available in two weeks.

August 19, Act I: another e-mail from Chapters Indigo. My Mother’s Daughter out of stock, Jane’s order cancelled with the suggestion that she check the website again in the near future. “We value your business and hope you will shop with us again.”

August 19, Act II: Jane thinks of a real human being who values her business—and this little transaction in particular. Messages me via Twitter, inquires about status of my book.

August 19, Act III: I ask publisher what gives. Am assured there’s plenty of stock and they’ll investigate the problem. Think of Jane, who has waited long enough. Swallowing my pride, suggest she use Chapters Indigo’s online store locator to buy a copy of my book the old-fashioned way.

Jane now owns the last copy of My Mother’s Daughter to be found at the mega-chain’s store in Woodbridge, Ontario. “Please understand I am not complaining to you about this,” she writes. “I am happy to have found a copy of your book. The key question for the supply chain though is—if the book is indeed well in stock, why does it take a customer more than six weeks to get one?” Good question. Had I been in Jane’s shoes, I’d have given up long ago. And then I’d have forgotten all about My Mother’s Daughter. A book—or anything else—that can’t be found when someone wants to buy it might as well be at the bottom of the ocean.

So here’s to you, Jane, for your extraordinary persistence. Whatever you think of My Mother’s Daughter, you’re one of those loyal readers every writer wants to have. And every one of us needs every one of you—maybe more than we know.


Posted by Rona

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