Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Touring a Bookstore

Every writer should tour a bookstore in the company of a manager. Did this yesterday for a class. The manager had 24 years' experience in the business. Bookstore facts:
  • A new book's lifespan on the displays "up front" is seven to 21 days. The book then moves to "the stacks" or regular shelving.
  • A new book's lifespan in the stacks is 90 days.
  • After 90 days the bookstore and publisher begin the process of returning the unsold books to the publisher for credit.
  • The bookstore's "bestseller" rack may be the bookstore's bestsellers, not the NYT's.
  • New hardcovers can be priced at 20 to 30 percent off the cover price because the publishers have given the bookstore a promotion subsidy.
  • Today's big-box bookstore carries about 95,000 titles. At peak in the 1990s, it carried an average of 135,000 titles. What got cut? Books from small publishers.
  • At a chain bookstore, the displays at the ends of aisles, called "endcaps," are subsidized by publishers.
  • On the shelves, some titles are displayed facing front, while others show only their spines. The publishers of the full-front books have paid the bookstore for the privilege. "It really sells books."


  1. How interesting. Thanks for this, Catherine.

  2. Wow. The things one never thinks about! Heartbreaking about the small press books getting cut. But it's encouraging that the bookstore can have its own bestsellers.