It’s true: I miss the pounds upon pounds of paper catalogs that I used to get every season. Yes, I hated the waste of them, especially when I’d get three sets of the same catalog. Recycling them was a pain in the butt. But I’m learning that there’s nothing like a good catalog. I figured out why this is. A well-done catalog is a lot like a good magazine and it harkens back to another time.
Sitting in the evening perhaps while watching TV, it was very easy to pick up a catalog and thumb through it and make notes. I could pick it up and just as easily walk away. All I had to was just dog-ear the page and come back to it later. It’s considerably more complicated now with the advent of Edelwesis, the on-line ordering system that works with more than 40 publishers, including most of the large houses. I also love Edelweiss, well, parts of it at least, and this is the conundrum for me as a buyer: I have one foot in paper and one in electronic, and each is lacking.
Edelweiss’s order entry ease is worth its weight in gold. No longer does it take hours typing in ISBNs from the paper catalog into your computer. An entire frontlist order can go into your system literally within minutes, thereby saving you heaps of time. The ability to see and order backlist titles along with the frontlist can make for more intelligent ordering, especially if your store uses Above the Treeline which can show sales numbers for authors, titles, etc. The supplemental information is lovely, but often I don’t read it. You can’t skim in Edelweiss and that is a problem for me.
There is a leisure with a catalog that I don’t find with any computer-based online ordering system. Perhaps it’s me, but I cannot do computer orders during the workday. The ordering happens during off hours, at least for me. I’m finding that during those off-hours, I do not want to spend even more time in front of a computer screen, even if I’m happily watching The Deadliest Catch and could be doing something else as well. The paper catalog can follow you around the house from the tub to the kitchen when you’re waiting for water to boil. These are places my computer seldom goes.
I’m thrilled for savings in trees and paper waste. I know it makes more sense to deliver the catalogs electronically with their instant updates. Every add-on and cancellation shows up in Edelweiss. But I’m surprised at the real melancholy I have when I have to order on the computer and can’t just thumb through a catalog, mark it up and then talk to my rep to make the order. Yes, I still talk to reps, just not as often; some I haven’t actually spoken to in a year.
So, what can I do? Well, I’m not sure, since a year ago I was heralding the demise of the paper catalog. I guess I will have to muddle through and savor the few catalogs I have left to see, and stop complaining about the computer ordering and really make it my friend.