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Barnes & Noble does not want to sell you books in their stores

This was a constant problem at Borders when I worked there: the vast price difference between books being sold online through Amazon (Borders' partner at the time) and the prices on the shelf. We were instructed to tell customers who were curious about why the books online were 50% cheaper at times that the online store and the real world brick and mortar store were separate businesses and the real store had, y'know, overhead invested in employees and stores and chairs and 50,000 in-store books to browse. Which is all true, but it's not persuasive. A bookstore that does not want to sell you books
As I stood in line, I looked inside the dust jacket to check the price. There were no discount stickers attached to the front cover, unlike the bestsellers and other new arrivals on the display next to me that were reduced by 20% to 30%. The full price of the book seemed to be (a lot) more than the price I remembered from their website that morning. I opened Safari on my phone which connected quickly thanks to the instore "complimentary Wi-Fi". Yep, the price on their website was quite a lot less. I was called forward to the check out register by a friendly representative. "Excuse me, what's the price of this book?" "Well that one's full price", he looked inside the cover, "so that's $29.95." "And with a membership, is that reduced?" "Yes, as a member you'll get 10% off." "Do members also get free-shipping from your online store?" "Yes, they get free shipping." "And if the online price is 10 bucks less", holding up my phone at the appropriate page. "Am I better off just ordering it online?" At this point the representative, by now clutching the book, began to recite a learned response that I later discovered was similar to these words on the barnesandnoble.com website. "Barnes & Noble.com usually is able to fill your order with less expense than our retail stores, and we pass those savings on to our online customers. This is why our prices online sometimes are lower than prices in your local Barnes & Noble store." The still friendly, but now somewhat dejected clerk added, "Yes, you can order it when you get home, and you'll save some money." "Or I can order it now, on this", gesturing with my phone. "Thanks."

May 30, 2012

This Day in Labor History: The Memorial Day Massacre of 1937

In which the Chicago PD acted as a private army for the steel companies and murdered ten workers on the streets of Chicago. This Day in Labor History: May 30, 1937 - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
On this date in 1937, Chicago police opened fire on strikers in front of the Republic Steel mill, killing 10 workers. Part of the “Little Steel” strike, where smaller steel corporations refused to follow U.S. Steel into signing contracts with the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (later United Steelworkers of America), the Memorial Day Massacre was one of the last great spasms of organized, lethal state violence against labor in American labor history. The Steel Workers Organizing Committee was a central part of the CIO’s industrial union strategy. Successfully targeting U.S. Steel, they convinced that company to sign a contract on May 2, 1937. This contract standardized pay, granted the 8-hour day, and instituted overtime pay. However, the smaller steel companies were if anything more vociferously anti-union that U.S. Steel and they refused to sit down with their workers. SWOC and the CIO therefore made them the next target. On May 26, 1937, 25,000 people walked off the job in plants in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. By the 28th, 80,000 were on strike, 46,000 of whom worked for Republic Steel, headed by anti-union die hard Tom Girdler. Girdler hired the Chicago police as a private army, paying for their guns and ammunition. The committee found that the companies had spent $40,000 on weapons for the police. Between 1933 and 1937, the Little Steel companies purchased more poison gas (nausea-inducing rather than fatal) than the U.S. military.