Friday, January 06, 2012

a bizarre case of self-created negative advertising

hi there

well, those who know me are aware that i have a love of reading in general, books in particular. and proper, actual books, not these rip-off, unengaging "ebooks". when i saw a story about an iconic bookstore closing down, needless to say i was interested enough to click the link and read about it. i was quite surprised and indeed taken aback by what i read.

firstly, one has to ask at what age and how well known a shop of any description needs to be for it to be considered "iconic". if i said to you "name an iconic store", you may well shout out Harrods, or the far more culture Fortnum & Mason. perhaps even Macys or Bloomingdales in New York. i would be surprised if any of you instantly said 'Die Boekehuis' in Johannesburg, which opened as far back as.....the year 2000.

i am an avid book purchaser, and i have never heard of the place - despite working in theoretical walking distance from it. if you click on the link to the article (right here if you missed it above), you will note that some book lovers who took the trouble of leaving a comment are unfamiliar with it, too.

by now some obvious reasons should have struck you as to why it may have closed down. for a start, the name of the place suggests it is an exclusively Afrikaans book store, which apparently it is, or rather was, not. so why have an Afrikaans name, then? bookstores that carry titles in many languages tend to have an English language name for simplicity, other language named stores tend to stock that alone. nothing like a bit of misleading advertising.

if only they did advertising, of course. the first that many seem to have heard of this place is that it is closing down. apparently they made a loss of R1,000,000 (one million, Dr Evil fans) last year, certainly not a cent of that was blown on advertising or promotion.

the reasons they give for closing are at best fascinating, at worst perhaps rather offensive. beyond giving themselves an Afrikaans names and wondering why no one goes in to buy English books at a store they didn't let people know existed, they have a tasty list of reasons for why no one used them. for the most part i shall let you read the article yourself (unless they wisely remove it, but more on that later), but this one really required highlighting.

er, what? "white South Africans are descendants of Protestants and thus do not read beyond The Bible"? of all the aloof, elitist comments made for the reason for their failure, this one really takes the cake. descendants of Protestants do not read anything other than The Bible? really?

the bit above it, about it being the fault of apartheid too (something which was abolished, say, 20 years ago), i shall leave to you to value at will.

the best part about the whole story is who ran it. as far as i can see, the only news agency running this story is News24, who i did hold a rather good view of until articles like this one started cropping up.

have a look at this.

is it just me, or is the article making a negative comment, or just flat out dig, at the fact that the store was "considered to be independent" but was in fact owned by a 'giant' media company called Media24? if i am right in reading it this way, or at least you agree with that interpretation, the interesting or perhaps bizarre thing is that Media24 also happens to own News24, who as said before seem to be the only place interested in running this story.

so, let me see if i have this in the right order. a bookstore that few have heard of is being closed down by the owners, who are reporting the elite, aloof and quite frankly offensive stance taken by them in the statement quoted? for what reason is it that you would happily insist on reporting on your own failure in such a manner that suggests most are delighted to see it go?

i can only hope, presume or pray that who worked in that store had a passion for books and a bit of intelligence - the people who wrote that statement clearly did not.

usually i would be sad to see any business close its doors, in particular when it is a bookstore. in this case, though, you would have to say good riddance with that attitude.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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