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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 discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.


Monarch Books, with a new potential threat of a new café bookstore opening, has an opportunity to prepare for the increased potential of competition in Collegeville. Monarch Books is correct to be brainstorming new ideas and business strategy to make sure it can keep is large customer base coming back, even afer Book and Bean opens. However, the current argument to replace the children’s section with a café is flawed in many ways.


With twenty years under Monarch’s belt, it has continued to maintain a large customer base because of its atmosphere and wide selection of book on many subjects. Stated clearly at the beginning of the proposal, these two unique qualities are what, in the management’s view, keep the customers returning. First, this argument is weakened by the lack of information on where theses views have come from. Are the two qualities from customer’s comments online, word of mouth, or just the management’s perceptions? To strengthen this proposal, Monarch books needs to have more concrete data and opinions from the customers themselves to better enhance the qualities that attracted its large customer base.


However, with the current proposal information, with an emphasis on the wide selection of books on all matters, to replace the children’s book selection would be directly taking away what this proposal cites as one of the top qualities of the company. Again, to strengthen this proposal, specific data or comments from customers about the value of the children’s book selection is very necessarily before this proposal should be considered. 


In addition, this recommendation from the business manager gives insufficient data about the decline of children to foster the proposal to eliminate the children’s book section. As she writes, “recent national census data”, is too broad to be used for such a small company in Collegeville. First, because the national census is collected only every ten year, this data may be up to ten years old, too old to be used for such an important matter for the company. Second, national data does not necessarily represent the city of Collegeville.  Perhaps children under the age of ten are increasing in Collegeville because the school system is drawing more and more families to the area. This recommendation needs to provide more recent and local data to strengthen this proposal.

The next flaw in this flow of logic is the statement that assumes that a café in Moarch Book Store, it would “ward off competition from Book and Bean”. This jump in correlation should not be made so quickly. Though providing a cage in Monarch may provide an new place for customers to read and purchase coffee drinks, it does not conclude that those customers would not also be attending Books and Beans. By switching the atmosphere and selection of Monarch, the bookstore may be actually adding unnecessary competition with Books and Bean. By increasing its similarity to Books and Bean, Monarch may be unintentionally loosing its niche in the bookstore market and entering Books and Bean’s niche- making the pool of customers Monarch is attracting the same as the pool of customers Books and Bean is attracting.


To strengthen the proposal to replace the children’s book section with a café, this propsal needs to add specific data about the children in the Collegeville, listen to the customers themsleves, and reconsider the assumption that entering the same niche as Books and Bean would ward off competition. 

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You do a nice job questioning whether the national census data is valid for Collegeville and questioning the assumption that Books and Bean presents competition for Monarch Books. However, the sequence of your ideas is very problematic and you are not focusing enough on the specific evidence needed to evaluate the argument, as per the prompt instructions. More specifically:


  1. The instructions don’t call for you to make a conclusion about the strength of the argument so your current thesis is not responding to the prompt instructions. You can conclude the argument is weak in your conclusion, but I suggest that your thesis focus on 3 different points where evidence is needed – the points you will focus on in each body paragraphs. E.G. “In order to evaluate the argument, further evidence is needed to determine if Books and Beans represents a competitive threat, if the national census data is applicable to Collegeville, and if converting the children’s books sections to a café will in fact increase Monarch Books’ profit.” 
  2. The order of ideas should follow the sample thesis in #1above because: 1) there is no point considering the proposal to convert the children’s section or the national census data if the new store is not a competitive threat; 2) you must question whether the census data is valid before you can consider whether this is the best approach and will actually increase profits. Even if the new bookstore will be a competitive threat and even if the national census data is representative of the situation in Collegeville, you must still question if getting rid of the section and building a café will increase profits and is the best approach to dealing with the threat. Maybe parents of children will stop shopping at Monarch Books and buying their books if there is nothing for children.
  3.  Right now your first body paragraph is not addressing a relevant point. You should accept the second sentence of the argument as a fact and not waste time questioning it. Your second body paragraph is underdeveloped and the first sentence should go in the 3rd body paragraph focusing on whether the proposal will increase profits.


Overall, this essay would probably receive a “4” – your length helps and you do address 2 of the most relevant points (though not necessarily in the correct order).


Good luck!

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