The following is a recommendation from the business manager of Monarch Books.
"Since its opening in Collegeville twenty years ago, Monarch Books has developed a large customer base due to its reader-friendly atmosphere and wide selection of books on all subjects. Last month, Book and Bean, a combination bookstore and coffee shop, announced its intention to open a Collegeville store. Monarch Books should open its own in-store café in the space currently devoted to children's books. Given recent national census data indicating a significant decline in the percentage of the population under age ten, sales of children's books are likely to decline. By replacing its children's books section with a café, Monarch Books can increase profits and ward off competition from Book and Bean."
Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.
In this recommendation, the author believes that in order to avoid competition with BB and reap higher profits, M bookstore should transform their children's book area into a cafe. However, through analyzation of the assumptions behind this proposal, we find that when some of the circumstance are not established, the suggestions provided in the memo will also lose force.
The author's conclusion is based on the premise that BB will, without fail, open at C. The only information we can acquire from this recommendation is that BB declared an intention to open a store at C. However, a claim is not a guarantee. If BB does not open a shop at C, then this premise can be considered ungrounded, and there would be no means to discuss the author’s recommendation.
Furthermore, even if BB does open shop, there is still the hypothesis that BB setting up a store location at C will threaten the operation of M, so M must take measures to avoid competition. However, this assumption is not necessarily valid. First, BB’s bookstore cafe business model may not be very competitive. Second, even if BB’s bookstore cafe model does indeed provide it with a competitive advantage, we should not turn a blind eye to the reputation M has built up over the years and M’s customer loyalty. It is likely that citizens living in C may have a deep emotional connection to M; they may love the M’s bookish atmosphere and not easily abandon it for a new bookstore. If either of the two cases above is not established, the author's conclusion will wane.
Additionally, the author mentioned that sales in children's books may decline based on the results of a national survey that found the percentage of children under 10 years old to be down. Here, the author assumes that the result of the survey is convincing and effective. However, this assumption is worth pondering over, because, first of all, the survey of the national population does not necessarily reflect the population structure of C. If the natural environment and medical conditions of C are much better than that of most cities in the country, the birth rate of C may be far higher than the national average, thus the proportion of children under the age of 10 years old could potentially be much higher than the national average and could continuously increase. Second, even if the proportion of children under ten years of age in C is decreasing, the population base of C is likely to increase, which would lead to an increase in the number of children, thus stimulating the sale of children's books. Third, even if the number of children in C is truly decreasing, this trend will not necessarily continue. If this trend does not continue, then M would not have to worry too much about the impact of changes in the number of children on book sales. Forth, even if the number of children under 10 years of age in C does proceed to decline steadily in the future, the demand for children's books is likely to continue to increase with an increasing emphasis on education. The number of children will decline, but the volume of reading per capita will increase. Finally, even if the sale of children’s books will decline, the price of the book can be raised probably because of the increasing income of local residents and thus help to offset the influence from the declining sales of children’s books. Therefore, understanding the exact number of children under 10 years of age in C in the future, is what’s beneficial to the prediction of whether or not sales of children's books will decline. If there is an absence of specific information, the author’s assumption that there will be a decline of children's book sales would be ungrounded.
Finally, even if BB does starts up a shop that poses a threat to M and sales of children's books continue to decline in the future, the author's advice may still not be feasible, because we need to evaluate another one of the author's assumptions: the advantages of establishing a coffee area are greater than the disadvantages. The opportunity cost, which will be affected by the transformation of the children’s area into a cafe, shouldn't be neglected. First, the cafe in M Bookstore may make the bookstore noisier than before, causing the atmosphere in the store to no longer be reader-friendly, thus the bookstore will lose a large portion of its readers. Second, M Bookstore's experience in opening a cafe is probably far from that of BB bookstore, and they could potentially end up providing readers with an unpleasant experience and tarnish the bookstore’s reputation. Third, opening a cafe in M Bookstore, construction, maintenance, and operation on a daily basis may require a large sum of money, thus the overall operation cost of the bookstores would increase significantly, which would also lead to significant operation cost increases. If revenue does not exceed said increase in cost, the profit of the bookstore will plummet. Therefore, M bookstore could possibly lose a large number of readers due to this transformation, resulting in loss of profit and leaving the bookstore hopeless in the competition against BB.
To sum everything up, although M should make some internal changes when facing the progression of BB, we still cannot conclude that the proposals in this recommendation are reasonable. If any of the hypotheses mentioned raise doubt, the author's argument construction and conclusion will be questioned. Therefore, it is suggested that the author be able to take into account the above mentioned assumptions, so that the final proposal can be more effective.