WIA – To survive it must move with the times – shut the bookshop and/or move it to Online Services
The WIA operates a bookshop. It offers a discount for members. However, there are serious problems with it:
- it is not a part of the core objectives of the WIA;
- it takes time for the Board and Office staff (one person) to manage. Stock must be ordered, paid for, received, checked, stored and orders must be fulfilled;
- it takes up office and storage space;
- it is not competitive. Nearly every book can be sourced elsewhere and for a cheaper price (especially Fred Swainston’s..); and
- WIA capital is tied up in dormant stock.
Books are volatile stock with a poor return. It is too easy to get stuck with unusable books that cost a lot to buy. The WIA can delegate the whole bookshop and save itself a lot of office processes for volunteers and paid staff.
We live in an internet connected age where online services have revolutionised the way in which business is conducted. The same goes for publishing and printing books, as well as distribution channels. The days of running a physical book shop like the WIA’s are over.
There are far more cost efficient solutions that enable the WIA to make more money for less effort, thereby enabling resources to be focused on core activities; like regulation and growing the hobby.
The bookshop (excluding FL Manual and callbook) has revenue of about $29,000 (2015). Gross Profit is about 35% or $10,800. Out of this come fixed costs: salary, real estate, IT Systems, overheads and administration. These very quickly eat into this gross profit leaving perhaps only a couple of thousand dollars of net profit at best. And that doesn’t include all the unpaid effort put in by volunteers and directors….
The WIA Board must consider moving to an online service offering for printing and distribution of its publications. Why this wasn’t done in the recent (and expensive) office review remains an enigma. One such solution is CreateSpace, an Amazon owned company. This service offers the following benefits:
- no money tied up in stock;
- no need to guesstimate print runs;
- no need for storage for stock;
- no risk of “too much stock” and big cash outlays – FL Manual 5000 copies purchased!
- no more stock write-off (hundreds of Callbooks have been written off in recent years);
- no risk of damaged stock or out-dated stock (as will occur with the Foundation Licence Manual);
- significantly reduced logistical hassles for WIA
- printing costs are very competitive – probably cheaper than WIA pays today;
- print any volume; and
- fast turn-around – 24 hours.
Well known amateur radio educator, Ron Bertrand VK2DQ uses the CreateSpace service. He reports great outcomes for his business, students and customers. Many members are buying his latest publication Radio Theory Handbook which is about 30% the price of similar textbooks in the WIA Bookshop.
Ron does not need to be concerned with purchasing volumes of stock or outlaying large chunks of cash. The process is handled by CreateSpace and Ron can get on with bringing new amateurs into the hobby.
Isn’t it time the WIA Board stepped back and called in the experts to help bring our WIA business into the 21st century?