HedgeFundLIVE.com — Interesting piece in the New York Times today about an increasingly popular trend among publishers turning to non traditional, non book retailers to do business. This trend has been developing particularly as big name bookstores like Barnes & Noble (BKS) and Borders have noticeably been struggling in the digital age. BKS continues to focus more on e-readers (their Nook device), games, and educational toys. Borders filed for bankruptcy in February of this year and they have already started liquidating 200 of their stores. Below are recent developments at some non book retailers:
– Kitson, a high end fashion boutique chain and celebrity hot spot in LA, sold approx. 100K books in 2010, which is double the figure from 2009.
– Bookmarc of fashion icon Marc Jacobs was recently opened in Manhattan last fall.
– Anthropologie has upped the amount of titles it carries from 25 in 2003 to 125 now.
– Other non book retailers adding new books to their product line ups: Coldwater Creek (CWTR), Lowe’s (LOW), Bass Pro Shops, and Cracker Barrel (CBRL).
– Perseus Books Group, a publisher, saw sales at non traditional retailers outpace those at Borders last year for the first time.
– Publisher Abrams had specialty retailers make up >15% of total sales in 2010 and the CEO believes this segment will expand to 25% in the next two to three years.
Now for some logistics. Selling books through these specialty stores is a bit more labour intensive than going the traditional route of selling through actual bookstores. But in exchange, books are sold on a non returnable basis, which makes things easier for both the retailer
and the publisher (whereas bookstores may return unsold items to publishers). So it seems like a good deal for both parties.
Taking this route by approaching non book retailers is a particularly useful tactic for back listed, lesser known titles because, well, where else are you going to sell them? These books get lost in the huge database of e book sales. So what do you do? Feature them strategically to the shopper who may not specifically be browsing for a book. Carrying unique titles though is an interesting way to drive sales. As Anthropologie’s head merchant for home and accessories put it, “We do a very good job of selecting unique books, books you’re not going to find in a typical bookstore, and certainly not in a mass-market bookstore like Borders or Barnes & Noble. And to stumble across it at Amazon [AMZN], you have to really know what you’re looking for.” And I would agree with that. There is something strangely appealing about the exclusivity of buying a book at a specialty store, for me at least. I’ll end with a brief list of surprisingly hot titles at various specialty retailers. I personally have not seen any of these books before, but if you have come across any of them, leave a comment sharing your thoughts on them.
– “Awkward Family Photos” at Urban Outfitters
– “Hello, Cupcake” at Michaels
– “Mad Libs” at Cracker Barrel
– “Erotic Poems” by E.E. Cummings at Bookmarc
– “How to Raise a Jewish Dog” at Kitson (hilarious, I would personally love to know if anyone has picked up a copy of this one)
– “The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm” at Kitson (I would love this one as well)
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