If it wasn't so stupid that you want to bash your head against the wall, the recent Harry Potter fiasco could even be considered funny.
For you hermits who still happily read this blog(Thank you!), 2 hypermarket chains have been selling the latest Harry Potter book at RM69.90, when the big bookstores have been pricing it at RM109.90. Naturally they've been a big hit with the fans of the Harry Potter series, causing the books to fly off the shelves (pun unintended) since the launching.
In a move that shouldn't catch any Keynesian economists or anti-trust regulators by surprise, a few major booksellers have ganged up to launch a media blitz of epic proportions, refusing to sell the books "in protest", and whining to the press about "indiscriminate price discounts", etc etc.
There were also unspoken threats hinting of consumer associations and the domestic trade and consumer affairs ministry.
So in case you didn't read the title....
Dear major bookshops,
Stop whining like dickless pussies. This isn't communist Russia. There's fuck-all you can do if someone decides to sell the book at whatever price they want to. Wanna protest? Who do you think cares? Your customers? the hypermarkets? The publishers?
Nobody has said anything in the scrubbed-clean, censored-edited-spoon-fed-to-Malaysians daily propaganda newspapers, but I think that the two hypermarts (and correct me here if you do marketing for either of the two) - after mining consumer data using their loyalty cards - figured that young adults and parents who would buy the hardcover book are probably the same people who spend a lot of money when they shop for groceries, and decided, in a fast-moving stroke of marketing genius, to use the hugely popular book as a loss-leader to increase sales in their other products. You know, the "hey since I'm here why don't I just buy my groceries here" tactic. I don't know how much is the profit margin on the book, but I'm betting that they aren't losing any money on the RM70 sales price, and if they are, it's probably negligible, in the form of logistics costs.
I think it's bloody genius, honestly. I wouln't have made the connection. And now the big bookstores - as in the cases of most entrenched monopolies - are crying foul, aghast at the possibility that something as egalitarian and basic as a hypermart actually dares to peddle elite wares such as printed literature. So far, I'm immensely glad that the consumer affairs ministry has lauded the move as great for consumers, as they should.
No doubt their management has met with representatives of the government in an attempt to coerce retailers to stay away from selling books. This is a capitalist country, my friends, at least when it comes to retail products(Sarawak gangsters controlling egg prices notwithstanding), and whether you like it or not, books are not an essential good like rice or sugar, and that makes them fair game for everyone, not just booksellers.
Just goes to show what happens when they remain entrenched and stagnant, don't they?
And just in case you still didn't get it....