Above: Waterstones Tottenham Court Road. Credit: Bookseller.


High-street bricks-and-mortar physical retailers are railing viciously against the rise to prominence of showrooming. Showrooming occurs when an individual consumer (member of the public) uses a shop for the purposes of research into, and/or approval of, objects which they will later buy online. In other words, showrooming is proposed as an abuse of the physical retailer.

To any such accusation I say: piss off.

Given that the consumer has been abused and exploited mercilessly through the last seventy-odd years of modern advertising-backed retailing, there really is not any sympathy towards the poor suffering high-street rip-off merchants.

On showrooming, Blackwell's and Waterstones bookstores have been complaining loudly about the injustice they endure. Sorry, but what about the outrageous rip-off prices that we consumers endure? Surely this cannot be overlooked. A paperback costs less than 50p to print-and-bind, so why sell it for £10? That is a mark-up of 1900 percent (and this is for a book which will not last more than five years on the shelf before the paper begins to disintegrate). Blackwell's and Waterstones are rip-off shops and they have no reasonable argument to make against showrooming ("we exploit you but you must never exploit us"). The prices they charge for books (that disintegrate) are criminal. The retailers are seeking to shame the public into ceasing showrooming, but what about the shame of their daylight robbery?

(18 December 2018)