Who decides?

When I go shopping, I always check out the book section.  I even do this when I go to Dollar General; did you know they have waaaay old titles for a buck?  Anyway, today at my drug store, I visited their tiny book shelf, just in case there was a title I wanted.  Most of the books were thrillers and I got to wondering…who decides which titles are stocked in a particular store?

Now, most chain stores have similar books.  Target, K-Mart, Wal*Mart, etc…if you go to one store in the chain, you know what the rest of the stores carry.  But, sometimes I’ve noticed that the percentages of the titles can differ.  When we still have Albertsons in town, the one at 31st & Garnett would have a lot more Western titles than the one at 51st & Memorial.  Target and K-Marts have really limited SF, but my local Reasors has none at all.

Is it by geography?  I know if I want a confession magazine, I have to go to the Warehouse Market on 18th & Garnett, but can’t find one at the WM only 1/2 mile from my house.   Of course, I can always go to Steve’s if I’m desperate to find the unusual book.  Steve’s carries about anything.

Does the broker get to decide?  Does he/she stock his favorite covers or titles or authors in the stores in his district?  Does his boss tell him which titles to put where or does the individual store manager decide which books will be stocked so he/she gets to pick out their favorite covers, titles, authors?

Maybe its magic.  The book fairies sneak into the stores at night and stock the shelves with whichever author leaves the correct cookies and milk.  Wait…that’s Santa Claus, isn’t it?

All I know is that sometimes, I have the devil’s time finding certain titles.  Now, it’s a given that if I want a POD, I’ll have to order it.  But I’ve had some long time favorites who I occasionally have to search for their latest book.   Sometimes, I can’t find it anywhere and have to order it…and that’s counting checking for the book at an honest to God book store.  So even there, who decides what titles they carry.  Is there any organization to the process???


9 thoughts on “Who decides?

  1. I’ve often wondered the same thing, Jackie. Who decides? Maybe it depends on the taste of the individual manager at each location who orders. Maybe it’s the demographics of the region. It would be interesting to know. Especially if you’re planning a book signing. If few people in a particular area buy, for instance, sci-fi, then you wouldn’t want a signing there if your book was sci-fi as it’d be a waste of time.

    Yep. I want to know where the most romance readers are so I can reach as many as possible. When I have a book out, that is. {grin}

    • Where would we find a jobber? I thought they were like the Easter Bunny…sneaking around at night, stocking shelves. I don’t think I’ve EVER seen anyone stocking bookshelves except for the employees at bookstores.

  2. Jackie,

    My only experience was with a B&N affiliate back in the 90’s. The corporate office in NYC decided what to send to a store based on their square footage and sales. So as your store showed more and more sales in Romance, you would begin to see more and more order fulfillment that included increased romance titles. Strangely enough, they allowed ANY bookseller to order books to be put on the shelves, so as you were shelving a series, assuming you read the genre you shelved and knew it was a series, you could go to the Books In Print computer and order copies of the series to keep on the shelf… but as those books were sold, they were not automatically reordered, like the regular books in the store.

    Magazines were a mystery and they were my section for well over a year. Imagine yourself in Houston, TX in the middle of August, you open a big box of magazines that include SLED DOG MONTHLY. Because, you know, if you’re training for the Iditarod, you’ve got to be in Houston!! I asked my manager WTF?? He told me that if I didn’t think they would sell, just strip them in the back room and return the covers, after three months, if we didn’t sell a copy, they’d quit sending them… so, it’s kind of a trial and error system at the major bookstores.

    The WalMarts and Targets of the world are stocked by outside companies who fill the allowed shelf space. I’ve heard that they are constantly trying to get additional rack space… so you’ve got to assume they could sell more if they had more titles. I’ve always thought it was interesting that in the chain stores all books are ‘face outs’. Last time I went into a Borders, they had a whole section of ‘face outs’ in Romance that were not just the new releases. I guess they are finally figuring out that YES a book cover can sell a book.

    All I can say, is seek out the manager/bookseller and ask specifically for what you want, Confessions, etc. If they know you’ll buy it and buy it every month, I bet they’ll get it added to their stock. spw

    • You’re right about that, Sandee. My favorite used book store just changed hands. I’ve always gotten my RT from the Book Alley and the old owners said the new owners are going to continue ordering RT for the customers who order them now. Every penny helps, I guess.

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