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Selling Books

on March 13th, 2008

borders frontfacing

Brand Autopsy reports that Borders is changing the way it stocks books. Instead of having the books on a shelf, spine out (like books and bookshelves are designed to be) they’re going to start stocking them cover out (see picture).

Apparently when Borders tried this strategy it increased sales by 9%. The downside however is they had to reduce inventory by 5-10% because the books take up more shelf space laid out this way. Interestingly it turns out that customers actually perceived Borders as having more books when they were laid out this way.

Seth Godin remarked on this new strategy by Borders saying:

This is counter to Long Tail thinking, which says that more choices and more inventory tend to increase sales.

The distinction is worth noting, because there are two valid strategies.

You can stock everything, so that the answer to the question, “do you have” is yes.

Or, you can market and sell, not just take orders, so instead of answering that question, you’re asking, “do you want?”

Although for once I think he’s missed the most obvious point (as have the rest of us up till now), the cover of a book is designed to make it attractive, to catch your attention, to make you want to pick it up and then to want to read it. So when you think about it putting the books face out is obviously going to sell more books. If you think about a newsagents it’s probably even more obvious that this would work, after all they always place magazines with the cover out and newspaper rely on you seeing the headline to drive sales.

More proof that every so often we should “ask why?”

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  • 1

    When I commuted on the train I used to buy books on a regular basis and a lot of the time I picked them out on the colour of the book. If was bright and stood out I was more likely to pick it up to read the blurb. They could combine the two and have books with spine out with a face out book in front of them.

    Phil Connolly on March 16th, 2008


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