BookHampton, in its efforts to stay afloat in an era of online bookstores, recently launched a texting campaign to offer even more convenience than, say, Amazon.com.
It’s like the red phone on Commissioner Gordon’s desk in the Batman series, according to BookHampton’s general manager at its East Hampton location, Chris Avena.
“We have a hotline that a customer can either text or call for a book emergency,” he said. “If you don’t have a book, it’s an emergency.”
In all seriousness, a minute to send a text beats the time it takes to search the internet, compare prices and enter in credit card information, Mr. Avena said. Even the delivery time for a book not in stock is comparable to what an electronic store offers, and books can be shipped out to customers at no extra cost if someone doesn’t want to pick it up at the store.
He said the customer doesn’t even have to know everything about a book to order one.
“We’ve gone off clues like ‘It’s a yellow book and the woman who wrote it is British,’” he said. “We’ll take any information you have and we’ll figure it out.”
Bookseller Taylor Rose Berry, who mans the hotline, said it’s taken off and they’ve gotten a lot of texts and calls.
“Everybody knows we all carry around our cellphones,” she said. “It’s a nice concierge service people can get used to having. I have customers texting me constantly.”
She said once a self-proclaimed insomniac texted the hotline at 3 a.m., and while Ms. Berry does sleep, she was on it in no time.
Even children have texted the hotline for the next book in a series that they didn’t have yet.
“We’re spanning generations,” she said.
Jack Wallace of Stanford, Connecticut, typically a shopper at bookstore chain Barnes & Noble, stopped in BookHampton on Friday and said he likes the idea of texting in a book order.
“Anything through text I am for,” he said.
BookHampton wants to change how people think about their local bookstore. It’s not the way of the past anymore, according to BookHampton’s owner Charline Spektor.
“We thought of it because we want to help people get rid of the Amazon reflex syndrome,” she said. “There’s a reflex in your fingers and we’re helping people reprogram that reflex. Texting on your cellphone takes just as long or even less.”
She said that online stores like Amazon have become bullies of the publishing industry, controlling which books are accessible, and can’t offer the personal experience of buying through a local brick and mortar store.
“Everyone has a cellphone in their pocket,” she said. “We don’t sell dishwashers, diapers, books and CDs, but we sell CDs, DVDs and books, especially.”
She said so far they’ve received hundreds of orders through text, especially from the company’s loyal customer base. She said their response has been the greatest.
In May, Ms. Spektor sent out an e-mail blast saying the company was struggling to make it due to a long winter and the harsh climate for local bookstores. She had asked everyone to help by buying just one book.
“The community of the Hamptons has elected to sustain very high rents there,” she said. “It’s not just landlords doing it but the community itself that said ‘We don’t mind.’”
She said once all the local stores are gone, there will be nothing left to reflect the community but only pop up and chain stores.
“What you’re losing isn’t mom and pop shops with dusty shelves and worn floors, you’re losing individual personality,” she said. “When they disappear, they’re not coming back. BookHampton wishes to continue to provide a personal service to people and we thought it best done if we acclimate ourselves to the way people have become accustomed to ordering their books.”
To order or inquire about a book, call or text (631) 488-5953.