Monday, August 6, 2007

Assignment: Bookstore Visits

I promised to share an assignment with you from last year's Denver Publishing Institute. This assignment comes from Carl Lennertz, VP of Marketing and Independent Retailing at HarperCollins. If you're interested in learning more about how and where books are sold, give it a try!

"Visit at least two bookstores, one being a chain (Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.) and the other an independent bookstore. Also visit the book department in at least one of these: Costco, Target, or Wal-Mart.

"In the chain or independent, look at three areas:

  1. The displays near the front of the store
  2. Displays at the end of the aisles (known as endcaps)
  3. The area near the cash registers

"Look for things like signs, stickers on books, bookmarks, and floor and counter displays. Also look for "staff pick" sections. Make a list of the things that you see, and also make note of what kinds of books dominate the front tables: seasonal themes, bestsellers, paperbacks, sale books, and even non-books. Also, take samples of any handouts, from bookmarks to newsletters. In Costco, Target, or Wal-Mart, just make note of what kinds of books are carried and how they are displayed. Write up your impressions and note which stores you visited."

I would also add a few more steps:

  1. Make note of the different sections that books are grouped into. Pick two or three sections that are most appealing to you personally--the books you are most likely to read and buy.
  2. In each section you select, find out who are the three dominant publishers--the imprints you see most often in that section.
  3. Go home and look up these publishers on their Web pages. Where are they located? What are their hot new releases? What jobs do they have available?
  4. If you can identify someone at the publisher who has a job you are interested in, send them an e-mail and ask whether you might be able to interview them about their jobs--no more than 30 minutes, and never use this time to try and get a job offer. Just find out what their jobs are like.

If anyone wants to share the results of their research with other readers of this blog, send them along and I will be glad to post about them.

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