Thursday, March 13, 2008

Borders Tries About-Face on Shelves

Better late than never, I suppose.

I have been telling managers of chain stores for years that they should tell corporate to reduce inventory as needed and turn as many titles as possible FACE OUT. The Wall Street Journal reports the idea (not mine, of course), has struck someone as viable. Click here for the story.

The average customer walks into a store and is faced with thousands of books spine-out. How many does he remember once he leaves? How many titles would he have picked up if he had seen the full front of the jacket and title?

Some managers thought this was a good idea. Most shook their head and told me that would never fly.

Most publishers cannot afford to pay for face-out display on front tables and end caps, and yet these same publishers often produce better books than the bigger NY-based houses.

Maybe this idea will help boost Border's revenue and its sagging stock price. Maybe not. They still have to do something about this problem, however.

--tps

4 comments:

Steve Basic said...

Ted,

That might work well for the casual reader of CW books, but know when I go into a book store; I go to the CW section and I look at what is new and will pull the book out and read the description on the book jacket. Not that hard to do IMHO.

Regards from the Garden State,

Steve Basic

Theodore P. Savas said...

Hi Steve

I don't think you are the "average customer" Borders is concerned with. The vast majority do not know what is newly available and do not browse (or feel comfortable browsing) as deeply as you, or have the time to do so.

I read a lot of WWII material, but I can't keep up with what is coming out. When I am surrounded in our Borders store with a dozen long shelves of material, most spine out, I don't usually have the time to pull each book off the shelf. If many of the covers were clearly visible, however, it is more likely I will see something I might want that I otherwise might not see.

At least, Borders hopes this is the case.

--tps

Colt Foutz said...

I think that's a great idea, Ted! Of course, paid dumps and bins and racks the store itself highlights do display titles face out. I wonder what their own numbers say? Ignoring, for a moment, the position of dumps and bins and special racks, and just dealing with this on a face-out/spine-out comparision, what percentage of titles are sold?

Man, wouldn't it be great if Internet ad technology could be applied to bookstore shopping? Instead of clicks and click-throughs, you could track pulls and purchases, compare what versions of a title sold more -- the face-outs v. the spine-outs?

Marko said...

I think if you want to see the best method of displaying books so that customers can see what they're buying, you should stay out of the chain stores. Shop independent! We've been facing out books since the dawn of time, people - its nothing new. Better yet, in an indie, you can ask someone for qualified, intelligent help finding the book for you and actually get it!