Do You Want Your Books in Costco, Wal-Mart, Target, Airport Stores and Supermarkets? – UPDATED

When I meet authors and publishers who are interested in growing their sales, I ask them this question: “What shelves to you want to see your book sitting on?”  It is helpful to hear what authors have in mind before I start working on their sales plan.

What I hear the most often is “Costco”, “Wal-Mart” and often, “My book would be PERFECT for Airport stores!”

While that may be true, I hate having to tell them what I am about to tell you…

That will only happen if you have already sold enough copies to prove to the buyers at these stores that your book will be worth their time and shelf space.

Airport stores, Costco and Supermarkets have very limited shelf space compared to the rent they are being charged.  It is a book buyer’s job to make sure that those shelves earn their keep.  Each inch of shelf space needs to yield a minimum amount of money each month. If books are put on the shelves that don’t sell enough, the buyer has to replace them. This is expensive and a waste of time and money for the store.

So buyers are judged by how well they choose books that will sell well and make money per shelf spot. The best buyers have an innate sense of the books that will succeed.  All buyers (if they are smart) look at data and sales history to back up their gut feelings before they put a book on their shelves.

No matter how great your book is, a buyer needs to PROVE to their companies that a book will make money.  You need to prove to the buyer that your book will make money.  How will you do that?

Airport stores don’t have the luxury of trying out books to “see how they do”.  They choose books that have already done well in the book market or online.

So, before you approach the national offices of any of the major chains, you have to have data that shows that they will make the money they are required to make.  If you don’t have sales from Amazon or the book retail chains, then you can try approaching a manager of a local airport store or Costco and ask if you can do an event.  A successful book sales day at Costco can be leveraged into a conversation with the main buyer in Washington.

I am not saying that you cannot have your book accepted into Target… I am just letting you know what the book buyer’s job looks like and what you will be up against.

If you want our help getting into Costco or Airport stores, there are ways to get tested in local Costco locations and ways to use co-op funds to get tested at airport stores.  Call us and ask how we can help!

9 Comments to Do You Want Your Books in Costco, Wal-Mart, Target, Airport Stores and Supermarkets? – UPDATED

  1. Anu Sharma says:

    I want to sale my Books on Airports Book Shops.

  2. omar says:

    My observation from visiting Walmart, supermarket chains and similar stores over the years,is that even well-known “national” publications do not do that good on the store shelves… they sit and sit and do not move fast. So it is not the brand and names.. there are also kickbacks and pressure from authors and publishers. I published “The halves and halve-not(s)” a new idea puzzle book with Amazon.com and it is doing fine sales-wise with good reception from many people.

  3. Jimmy McJimmerson says:

    Dick Phillips? Really? Is that a pen name? Waiting on what? First quarter numbers for a numb nuts story that you pulled straight out of your ass? Why don’t you give it and go read Unbroken. Granted, not an original story, or even particularly well written (she drags stuff out to the point of skimming…Hey James Patterson). Great, true story none the less. What’s up now Dick? How are those numbers?

  4. Jimmy McJimmerson says:

    You know….after reading some of the commentary, I have to say. Most books and most writers are Sh#$!.You can deny it all you want but that is the truth. Heck, even James Patterson, with his f’d up habit of backing other writers with their crap story lines (and selling copies with his name) should be ashamed of the garbage that gets sent to publishing companies these days. If you truly have some chops, submit your pile of poo to the book decision makers, the National Award shows. Chances are, you’ll truly find out where you stand and can offer up your results to potential carries of your paper rash. Good luck.

  5. Captain P says:

    Thank you for the info. By the way, you have a typo in the first paragraph of your article. Not trying to be a know-it-all, just trying to be helpful since you are trying to appeal to writers.

  6. R. W. Dick Phillips says:

    It seems that major corporate book buyers and their national distribution consultants have never heard the phrase “management by exception.” When local store managers come upon a book which relates to their local market and is written by a local author, they should be able to include it in store offerings and build customer interest through, and benefit from, local articles and author book signings. But yet, after several requests, their corporate decision makers and book consultants say “no.” Even when the author makes a credible submission to those national experts, with book samples, a marketing plan copies of local publicity generated for the book, and recent Amazon book sales, the experts say no, making blind decisions on past national, non-performing books. all this despite an attractive reseller discount and full credit return policy from the book’s publisher. Aren’t regional sales important too?

    • Amy Collins says:

      It has been my experience that store managers DO and CAN “break the rules” when they wish…. The trouble is, so many of the managers are overworked and overwhelmed and do not have the time or willingness to break the rules for every local author that comes to them. If you show them that you can drive sales to their stores, they can order a few. If they don’t… move to the local independent bookstore or a local gift shop!

  7. R. W. Dick Phillips says:

    Are you suggesting that I comment on my own published quote?
    Nothing has changed, except doing presentations at local
    libraries and securing a few local bookseller placements and developing feature stories which may help my marketing.
    Am waiting on my first quarter numbers which may give me something to talk about to those who advise major big box stores and bookstore chains. That is, of course if I knew who they were. Then I could pitch them on why this book is timely because of all the revolution-based programs on cable and dramas on networks. This is an historical commentary, not a textbook from which we learned in school. There are reasons why, although St. Clair was one of Washington’s most trusted major generals and military strategists, history has mostly ignored him. This book is somewhat controversial, because reflects unfavorably on some we have revered for over two centuries.

  8. R. W. Dick Phillips says:

    In all fairness, iUniverse did a credible job publishing my book.
    You can quickly get a feel for it under the title on Amazon.com
    under the title, Arthur St. Clair, the Invisible Patriot, by R. W. Dick Phillips. IUniverse seems weak on distribution, which they admit, even though they keep trying to sell publicity packages to me. Even though I know some local managers of big box stores who want to carry my book, their buyers refuse and even ridicule them! Their response is usually, “were just too big.” So..I continue to contact independents for placements in key markets.

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