Friday, July 5, 2013

A thought for publishers

Dumps are often a great idea, at least to this bookseller's mind. (For the uninitiated, a dump in this context is a cardboard floor display designed to hold lots of copies of a particular book or sometimes a series.) They make a new book visible, which obviously makes a huge difference in sales. They tell customers (and us booksellers) that a book is kind of a big deal. They save us from finding space for huge amounts of overstock - not the basis for display decisions, but a nice perk. But they only work when we can use them.

We're a midsize indie, and nearly every square foot is accounted for, either by merchandise or by a thoroughfare. On a sunny Sunday when everyone's picking up summer reading for camp, our aisles can get pretty crowded. I can only imagine how precious space is for smaller stores than ours, of which there are many.

I'm much more likely to put up a dump if it's relatively small, and I bet I'm not the only one. A display with one column of slots for books and a topper with the title and an image will still get much more attention than a faceout on the shelf, and it's much easier to use than one that's two or three feet wide. (Having the book's title on the top piece is a simple thing that can help; if I'm not able to use the dump, I do try to hang the top piece as a poster.)

Every store's space has its quirks. Our kids' section's layout is such that there are several nooks and crannies for dumps around Intermediate Fiction, but not many around other sections, and that's probably different in other stores. And of course, some stores are bigger than we are, and their booksellers might be more eager for a giant display to draw attention to a big new book. I wonder if it would be feasible for publishers to provide dump options in different sizes and let buyers choose, if that isn't happening already.

You want customers to notice your big titles, and we want the same thing. The easier it is to display them prominently, the better for both of us.

I'll be away next week, and probably playing catch-up when I first get back. If this blog is quiet for a bit, rest assured I haven't abandoned it!

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