Midtown Books: Betting on Book Sales

My friends at Midtown Books in Memphis, TN have outdone themselves. Owner Hugh Hollowell sent me this email last week and I was so impressed with this creative marketing slant, I’m passing it your way.

But here’s the thing. It’s no gimmick. This is SO Hugh! He is a superfun and generous guy, and all about the betting. I had a blast playing craps with him and a Midtown Books employee, Melissa, last year when I was on tour for Sand in My Bra.

And if I can’t get over there to use my coupon, maybe some of you can. I’m sure he won’t mind me passing it on to the masses….especially if it means him winning a steak dinner! Get over to Midtown Books! Quick, before the offer runs out.

Dear customers and friends:

I have a problem… and it occurs to me that you may be one of the few people on the planet who can help me resolve it. Let me explain.

My store, Midtown Books, was recently chosen as the “Best of Memphis” by the readers of the Memphis Flyer. For a store that just celebrated its first anniversary back in July, I thought that was pretty good. I know for certain back when I started I never saw the incredible things that would be happening a bit over a year later. We are the largest used bookstore in Memphis, have hundreds of regulars, we’re a “home base” for Jazz in Midtown, a customer list that spans 3 continents and 6 countries, and best of all, being picked out as ”the best” by our customers.

We owe all of this to you, our customers. So, to say thank you…

I want to give you a free gift!

I want to give you a free $5.00 gift certificate to do whatever you want in the store. Spend it exactly as if it were cash…with no other purchases necessary and NO strings attached!

And there is where my problem comes in. You see, I have a good staff. They are helpful and polite to the customers, and they work hard. But this time they think I have went off the deep end. They claim that no one will believe this offer. Or if they did, they won’t know what to do with it, or if they did know what to do with it, we can’t possibly afford the over $5,000 it would cost the store.

Well, to put it mildly, I told them they were flat wrong, that they were underestimating our customers and that this would be a true win-win that would help our customers and be good for the store.

That is right when I put my foot in my mouth.

I bet the whole crew that if I were wrong I would take them for fillets at my favorite steak house. But if they were right, they would have to chip in and take me. Now I am afraid I need your help to help me win this bet and save my pride.

Here is why I think we’re going to win.

They said:“Nobody will believe it”

Now, I know that offers like this are usually tied to some sort of purchase. You know, like “apply this $5.00 to any purchase of $50.00 or more…”

Well, that is NOT what we are talking about here. This is really a gift. Spend it in my store just like cash…with no obligation to buy another thing. (not to say you can’t buy anything else if you just fall in love with it.) So there is no reason not to believe. Take a look at the gift certificate (it is at the end of the email). No tiny print. No strings attached. It is cash money!




They said, “They won’t know what to do with it”.

I agree that there aren’t a ton of books that sell in a used bookstore like ours for less than $5.00. But there are a few. Like most of our paperbacks, for instance. A few of our general fiction hard covers and large paperbacks. Besides, you could always use this to save a bit on that gift you were going to buy that special someone for Christmas (it is just around the corner, you know)

Come on, now, Do you really have any doubt on how to spend $5.00?

They said, “We can’t afford to give away so much”.

Ok, look. I know not many people will be inclined to spend more than the free $5.00. But, some will. After all, Christmas is only a few weeks away. Is there a better time and place to take care of your ever-growing Christmas list?

And…wait till you see the great new books we just got in. We have processed in the last 2 weeks over 100 boxes of books. We are still putting them out. Great finds like southern history, Huge art books that would be great presents, tons of new mysteries, and we have doubled our religion and business sections!

I am sure some people, at least a few, will want to take advantage of our free gift to make it worthwhile.

OK, I will make it easier for you. (I really want to win!)

In addition to the free $5.00, I will throw in an additional 15% off your total purchase in the store. That includes my $600.00 first editions, my new children’s books, and my signed, rare books. Any Book!

Well, that’s it.

If you believe this is an honest gift, If you know what to do with it, and if you understand we won’t go broke doing it, print the coupon out and come to Midtown Books, pat yourself on the back for being such a loyal customer, and claim your free gift.

On November 24th, it is all over. No more celebration, no more free gifts, no more coupons.

On November 24th, we have to get down to the serious business of the Christmas season.

We will be looking for you, dear friends and customers, because you are going to help me win my bet!

Aren’t you?

My best regards,

Hugh Hollowell

PS. If I were you, I would NOT wait till the last few days. Come early to get the best selection. Also, do me a favor and slip me the coupon discreetly, would you? Not all my customers got this offer, so I don’t want their feelings hurt.

(if for some reason these don’t print out, just show me the email, and the same offer will apply.)


15% Off!

This coupon is good for 15% off any purchase of books before

November 24th, 2004

Not applicable to purchases made with trade credit,

Must be cash, check or credit cards.

Good toward any book in the store.
Expires Nov. 24, 2004

Midtown Books
2027 Madison Ave.
Memphis, Tennessee 38104 United States
Phone number 901-726-0039