I received a copy of Bas Bleu
’s catalog via snailmail the other day. Bas Bleu (means “blue stocking,” the antiquated label used for an educated woman) is a specialty book and gift strictly mail-order company whose motto is: “Champion of the Odd Little Book…and your source for inspired gifts and accessories for readers.” It surprised me to get this catalog since it seems like the days of hard copy catalogs are far behind us (JCPenney's just announced they will discontinue their Big Book
). Like Bas Bleu's name, I suppose you could say the company’s approach is a bit old-fashioned, though you can certainly shop their stock online. The physical catalog features a select number of books with personalized summaries written by staff members, as well as odds and ends that may appeal to the folks who take seriously the book.
It continually amazes and impresses me when a company can find its niche, zero in on it, and continue to prosper to whatever degree in the face of the monoliths like Amazon and Walmart. It's the advice found in so many of the best business books. See Good to Great
, anything by Seth Godin
, Chris Zook's Core
800ceoread has done its best to do the same by concentrating on our core customers. For a number of strategic reasons, our snailmail catalog was discontinued in 2005. But just last week, while drafting a new email newsletter we may begin using at the start of the new year, I was digging through a file of our old marketing materials. This search certainly brought back some memories for me. I started working for the company in 1997, when we were Schwartz Business Books, and our catalog, then called the Gazette, was a raging success. Well, it was until I was hired. At that same time, Amazon hit the book sales industry with its full force and the Internet almost instantly made our mail order catalog response negligible. Soon my job became more about adapting our marketing to the Internet than responding to a deluge of mail orders.
But if, like me, you are feeling a bit nostalgic for the good old days of having a catalog in hand, pages between your fingers, the ability to checkmark or circle everything you want to buy, check out these scans of our past catalogs.
[caption id="attachment_5566" align="alignnone" width="218" caption="The Schwartz Business Books Gazette Circa 1994-95"]
[caption id="attachment_5573" align="alignnone" width="218" caption="800ceoread Gazette"]
[caption id="attachment_5571" align="alignnone" width="218" caption="800ceoread Keen Thinker"]
[caption id="attachment_5574" align="alignnone" width="218" caption="800ceoread Keen Thinker - Final Edition"]
About Sally Haldorson
Sally Haldorson's job as 800-CEO-READ’s General Manager is to make 800-CEO-READ a great place to work for our employees, and a consistently high-performing customer service organization for our clients, authors, and our partners in the publishing industry. In addition to her General Manager duties ensuring collaboration, integration, and quality, she reads, writes, reviews, curates, and edits for the company. Helping craft The 100 Best Business Books of All Time used parts of both skill sets. Outside of work, she is most likely to be found hitting a tennis ball around or hanging out with her boys (husband, child, dog) at home.