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Hal Licino

The Little Book Store that Beat Amazon at Its Own Game

May 23 2012, 07:42 PM by

We all have warm fuzzy places in our hearts for idiosyncratic eccentrics who against all the odds try valiantly to keep alive some thoroughly outdated, Noachian venture for no real reason other than wistful nostalgia. Right alongside the purveyors of winnowing baskets, moulboard ploughs and trebuchets, we can now place Jeff Mayersohn, who embarked on a venture possibly even more obsolescent than marketing those medieval tools. Mayersohn actually... are you ready for this... got into the bookstore business! And even more outrageously... is actually experiencing month on month double digit sales growth! How he is managing to beat the Amazon juggernaut at its own game is a lesson in how any marketer can leverage imagination and technology to triumph against the corporate dreadnaughts.
Mayersohn Installed a Money-Printing Machine to Take on Amazon
Mayersohn is a former tech exec who was dismayed of how the digitization of content was decimating the traditional book industry. He was painfully aware at how the last surviving bookstores were turning into showrooms for Amazon where customers would leaf through books, check them out thoroughly, then smartphone-scan them and order them from Bezos’ money-printing machine. That gave him the idea to install a money-printing machine of his own, and he found the perfect one in The Espresso Book Machine.
A Book Printing Factory in the Space of a Chest Freezer
This wondrous machine is essentially a book printing factory that takes up the space of a large chest freezer. The core of the machine is a more or less conventional copier/printer with a bunch of other tools that allow the printing, binding and trimming of perfect-bound paperback books that are effectively indistinguishable from the original on the bookshelf. This isn’t a bunch of Xeroxed pages stapled together, this is a book that even expert librarians would find difficult to tell apart from the one that was produced on a conventional press. The process is extremely simple: The customer chooses a book, the Rube Goldberg device swings into action and within a few minutes the book is downloaded into the machine, printed, bound and is ready to be taken home... an exact copy of the original in every way except that it didn’t take up shelf space in the store!
Walk out with Any Book You Can Imagine in 5 Minutes
Since The Espresso Book Machine is linked in with Lightning Source, it has access to millions of books from most of the world’s major publishers, including the latest releases. Another great advantage to the machine is that it has access to countless out of print or hard to find books so it caters to every book lover that requires immediate gratification. Stroll into Mayersohn’s relatively small bookstore and walk out with just about any book you can imagine in about five minutes. That sure beats waiting days for the Amazon delivery to arrive!
Technologically-Savvy Employees Conversant with Their Sublime Esoteria
Mayersohn’s Harvard Book Store (not affiliated with the august institution) is not just four walls surrounding this wonder-machine, but a full-service book emporium that exercises exquisite customer service and even goes as far as providing same day delivery to the local Cambridge, MA area by eco-friendly bicycle. The store engages in a comprehensive customer outreach program that sees a public event organized nearly every business day and the staff is composed of technologically-savvy employees who are conversant with every aspect of the sublime esoteria they offer the book loving public.

Mayersohn has taken aim on the universal core weakness of the online e-tailer business model. No matter whether you’re ordering a book, a knitting needle or a mainspring for your 1895 Burdick Springwound Automobile, if you’re addicted to taking possession of the item while the impulse is still red-hot your enthusiasm will wane in the long days waiting for the UPS truck. The Harvard Book Store’s Espresso Book Machine-powered business model provides the nearly infinite choice of the online e-tailer with the immediate delectation of the local bookstore... and customers love it!

Who knows? Maybe there is an agricultural market for technologically-improved winnowing baskets: “Keep grain fresh – Turbothresh!”

Posted in Printing, Tech Editorial

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