Thursday, January 24, 2008

Publishing: Finding Placement in Independent and Chain Bookstores

How Independent and Chain Bookstores Choose the Books on Their Shelves
Theresa Chaze

In order to be successful, authors must find placement both on independent and chain bookstore shelves. Yet no matter how well written, bookstores will not place it on their brick and mortar store shelves if they cannot make a profit. It is up to the author to choose a publisher who can produce a product that will attract the attention of bookstore owners.

When making the decision on which book to carry on their shelves, owners focus on the five criteria.

1. A discount off the cover price. The industry standard is a minimum is 50%; however, the larger the discount the stores receive, the more likely an owner will be interested in purchasing the book.

2. Returnability. Bookstores will be more willing to risk their money and shelf space on a new author if their risk is reduced by giving them an option to return the book. While it is common for traditional publisher to make their product returnable, until recently, it has been a major issue for POD publishers.

3. A reasonable cover price. The more the book costs, the less likely reading public willing to buy it. An over price book by a new author will be passed over for one that is of equal quality, but has a cheaper cover price.

4. A good marketing plan. By placing ads and creating a name brand, the author will not only create a readership, but will make it easier for bookstores to sell the books thereby increasing the likely hood of finding shelf space.

5. Uniqueness of the topic or the author. If an author is considered an expert on the subject, it will not only give the author additional credibility but also marketability. In addition, if the author takes a fresh perspective or angle on the book, you can use this in your marketing plan to attract readers and bookstores.

Although the online sales of books are increasing, most book sales are still made in brick and mortar stores. In order to be successful, a book has to find placement on those shelves. The authors have to take responsibility for choosing a publisher who will meet industry standards and be willing to support the book after publication. If the publisher cannot economically produce the book by offering an industry standard discount, making it returnable, and keeping the price reasonable, the author needs either to rethink their choice of publisher or accept the fact that bookstores will not carry their books on their shelves.

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