Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Little Bookstore IQ for Writers

Earlier today, I was e-mailing with poet/memoirist Sandra Beasley about a very cool project that's coming to this blog in 2012 (which I'm hoping she'll be able to help with at some point down the road), but she mentioned how she was proudly pointing to a copy of the 2012 Poet's Market at Square Books in Mississippi.

I'm excited when I see a forward-facing Poet's Market!

I responded: "I'm glad we've got someone to proudly point at Poet's Market in Mississippi!"

Sandra came back with: "When I went back to Square Books the next day, he had turned the copy so it was cover-out on the shelf."

This struck me for some reason. Maybe because it wasn't a sales person at F+W who made the comment. Instead, it was an author who recognized that there IS a big difference between having a front-facing book versus one that's spine out. It improves visibility and sales.

Anyway, that got me thinking about a few other bookstore bits of intelligence of which the ordinary writer may not be aware.

Table Displays
Whether in the front of the store or in the aisles, bookstore shoppers may recognize that there are tables with special promotions--usually centered around a specific topic, holiday, series, etc. These tables are conceived by the bookstore buyers and publishing companies (who pay for the opportunity to have prime real estate in the bookstore).

Similar to table displays, endcaps are those themed-promotions that appear at the end of an aisle of bookshelves. As with the table displays, good endcap displays are usually themed--and will often fit with the overall section in which the endcap appears (like an endcap of horror young adult novels in the young adult fiction section).

When our sales force talks about buyers, they're not talking about readers. Instead, they're talking about the folks who buy books for a bookstore or bookstore chain. Those folks are called buyers, and they constantly hear pitches from sales teams at book publishing companies who are trying to get on shelves, endcaps, and table displays.

Anyway, these are just a few little odds and ends, but I thought it might be interesting to writers who are curious about how things work. Plus, for me, it shows how even small things like whether a book is forward-facing or spine out can help dictate its chances of success in the bookstore.


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