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Publisher Installs Book Vending Machine Right Next to Airport Bookstore

PW brings us the news that Arcadia Publishing has opened a retail venue in its local airport, but unfortunately the venerable publication left out half the story and got half of its facts wrong.

The press’ first book kiosk is now available at Pittsburgh International Airport, which has the highest per passenger spending of any airport in the country. The machine has pockets that hold a total of 150-200 copies of books when it is fully loaded. Some of the initial offerings include African Americans in Pittsburgh and Forgotten Tales of Pittsburgh.

As you can see in the photo at right, this is not a kiosk; it is a vending machine. The publisher itself even calls this installation  a vending machine:

Making a pit stop at Pittsburgh International Airport this holiday season? Be sure to stop by our FIRST book vending machine, located in Concourse C, next to Hudson News. It’s the perfect spot to pick up last-minute holiday gifts or a great read for yourself!

And that brings me to the second point: the location of the vending machine. It was installed next to the local Hudson News location.

While many Hudson News are more newsstand than bookstore, this is one of the ones which can honestly be called an airport bookstore:

While I can appreciate the publisher’s desire to install a book vending machine in the airport, I cannot fathom the thinking that went into choosing this redundant and easily overlooked location.

Better luck next time.

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Jeff Mcneill December 9, 2016 um 5:32 pm

This is actually quite great to see, for a small publisher. Airports are the highest commision that bookstores charge publishers. It is common to have retail bookstore chains have two rates, one for the airport locations and one for everywhere else. But of course if you want to be in the airport, that means the commission goes up for all locations. This is can easily be around 50% (for consignment), as opposed to the standard 30-35% consignment.

A vending machine, if it actually works, and if the rental charge for it is reasonable, could put a large chunk of the profits back into the local publisher. It is definitely a worthy experiment.

Chris Meadows December 9, 2016 um 8:09 pm

What’s so hard to fathom? It makes perfect sense to me.

It’s the same reason you often see gas stations, fast food restaurants, and other similar businesses locating themselves right next to or across the street from their competitors. It’s why you see competing newspaper machines sharing the same street corner, rather than spaced far apart. Everyone’s trying to draw business away from their closest competitors by going where those competitors already are.

If someone’s coming to the airport bookstore, they’re looking for books. So why not put your book vending machine right next to the book store, so the people going to that location for the one can also consider the offerings of the other? What kind of sense would it make to put your book vending machine in some other random location, where you can’t be sure people will show up specifically looking for reading material? Even putting it on a busy concourse would run the risk of most of the people in that concourse walking right past it because they simply don’t have books on their mind at the moment.

poiboy December 9, 2016 um 8:11 pm

i agree as well.. makes perfect sense.

Peter Winkler December 10, 2016 um 2:52 pm

Exactly. Coat tail effect or in auto racing, drafting.

Jeff Mcneill December 10, 2016 um 9:00 pm

Lots of models and reasons for spatial aggreggation, and free rider is not one of them.

Richard Joseph December 15, 2016 um 3:46 pm

Hi Nate

I’m a regular visitor to your site and really enjoy your content. I was pleased to see your coverage of our new book vending machine now referred to as ART(Automatic Retail Technology) .

You couldn’t be more right about the location of the machine – it really is next door to Hudson News which is certainly more of a bookstore than a newsstand. There’s a good reason for the placement of the machine. We have dozens of books about Pittsburgh and the surrounding area, and Hudson has struggled with the logistics of matching local-interest books from our catalog of nearly 15,000 titles to their airport store locations. We do know when our titles are available in airport retail outlets the sales are outstanding. We are encouraged by the sales so far at Pittsburg Airport.

I’m happy to report that the effort has already sparked a promising conversation with Hudson that could end up with the placement of Hudson branded ARTs adjacent to other Hudson locations with Arcadia taking on the complex logistics required to build a strong local and regional selection for these Hudson store.

Thank you for the coverage, and please keep up the good work.



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