Book a Million:
The Story Behahnd the Story, an Insider Exposeeee
By Chari T. Madeaux
Founded in 1917 as a street corner newsstand in Florence,
Alabama, Book A Million, Inc. has grown to become the premier
book retailing chain in the Southeastern United States,
and the third largest book retailer in the nation. Based
in Birmingham, Alabama, the company currently operates more
than 200 stores in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
In addition to its primary retail component, the corporation
includes a book wholesale and distribution subsidiary, American
Wholesale Book Company, an e-commerce division operating as BOOK
A MILLION. COM (well, they call it a division because that makes
it sound like a big facility with a bunch of workers, but really
it's just Old Ned and his geek nephew Ted. And their dog. And
whatever hotties they can attract for lunch in the cafeteria-
see the photo below), and an internet development and services
company, NetCentral, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Lunch at the "division" with the hotties
Ned is behind the red-haired guy, Ted
Old Ned and his famous e-tailing dog, Cotton,
out in the field doing 'eCommerce Research'
A MILLION. COM, the company's e-commerce website, was successfully
launched in 1998 (quite a feat, isn't it- to launch a website
successfully). Like their stores, the site is open, inviting and
focused on the products. Since the book a million site's launch,
they've enhanced its design (which is what you always want to
do to make something look better- enhance its design), product
offerings, editorial content (meaning their opinions on stuff-
they enhanced those, too) and customer service attributes (it's
very important also to enhance your attributes, since attributes
are one of the main things customer service has that you can enhance),
as well as maintain their position as a value leader (meaning
they lead values wherever they need to go) in book e-tailing (ok,
it's weird, but yes, they do put tails on their books. And little
fuzzy ears. They like to think they're little cute mice, not books.
Through their American Internet Services division, book a million
continues to develop a suite of e-commerce solutions (some of
their secretaries thought they were developing sweets and got
all excited, and when it turned out just to be programming, they
all took the take off to strike and go eat bon bons and watch
dvds at Sheryl's house) aimed to meet the needs of a variety of
business clients (they deal with personal clients differently).
The acquisition of NetCentral continues to provide book a million
with the development experience and systems resources needed to
continue to innovate and compete effectively in the e-commerce
arena (I have no idea what that sentence just said- do you?
But you'll understand better when you see a picture of the book
a million staff writers below).
The writers of questionable web copy
(and for the thousandth time, no, that's not Dustin Hoffman!)
NetCentral, an Internet development and services company, was
acquired (much like the chicken pox, or mono, it just sort of
appeared, and they're stuck with it for now) by book a million
in January, 1999, and is based in Nashville, Tennessee (it will
continue to be based there until they can figure out how to debase
it, or perhaps even transbase it). In addition to providing
systems solutions and web development for all of the corporation's
Internet and networking initiatives (we called them on the
phone, and they couldn't explain that sentence to us either- or
maybe they were hiding something), NetCentral's Internet experience
and its development of a comprehensive, integrated e-commerce
platform (which one day may be large enough to stand on) continues
to attract a growing number of outside clients (annoying ones
who keep staring in the windows) as well.
Frickin' Annoying Outside Clients
And that's pretty much the whole book a million story.