Thursday, December 9, 2010

Popular Books in the Milwaukee Market That Don't Sell for Us

Bestsellers, bestsellers, bestsellers. We report to some lists and read even more of them. Not just The New York Times, but lists from USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, an indie-only list from the American Booksellers Association, and another that only includes indie stores in the midwest.

One list that we see that doesn't get that much attention are books that sold in our designated market area. It includes anyone who reports to Bookscan, including the chain stores. Of the mass merchants, I'm pretty sure it includes Target, but does not include Walmart. Walmart keeps their sales proprietary in all categories, and vendors have to buy the information. Here is the top ten, all categories (book type, fiction or non, adult or kids) combined:

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, by Jeff Kinney
2. Elf on a Shelf, by Carol Abersold and Chanda Bell (Alas, we're not carrying this. I thought it was limited to B&N, but I have found some other, but not too many, indie bookstores selling this. It now comes in either light-skinned or dark-skinned elf. Maybe next year.)
3. Port Mortuary, by Patricia Cornwell
4. Cross Fire, by James Patterson
5. The Confession, by John Grisham
6. Of Thee I Sing, by Barack Obama (a big seller for us)
7. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson
8. The Lost Hero, by Rick Riordan
9. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
10. Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King

Since Boswell is pretty much out of the loss leader game, sales on high-profile thrillers tend to tilt towards the chains, with the exception of something like Larsson, which is a phenomenon. One day I'll do a post on the phenomenon of authors being recategorized from mystery to thriller. Mystery is a dirty word in many channels (too genre, particularly for hardcovers) but in most indie bookstores, it's like giving the book an award sticker.

Some of the titles in this list that we are not selling well include Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever (though we carry it) and several kids books based on the "Tangled" movie, which Disney renamed from "Rapunzel" to appeal more to boys. And yes, we carry them too, but with the state of moviegoing, you have to go ten-plus miles in any direction from our store to see "Tangled," which does limit the market a bit. And Mark Nepo's The Book of Awakening has been on the list for the last two weeks. It's ten years old, but it's one of Oprah's new favorite things.
Addendum: I was talking to my pal Alicia at Board Game Barrister at Bayshore. If you're looking for Elf on the Shelf and want to shop indie, they have it. It's or 414-963-2100 for more info.

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