Monday, June 28, 2010

Books That Sell Themselves--A Special Post Half-Directed at Booksellers, but With Luck, of Interest to Plain Old Readers Too

There are books that people are naturally drawn to, and sometimes you don't exactly know what they are going to be. Put a pile of Murder on the Eiffel Tower on your paperback table and it will sell. It worked for us in hardcover at Schwartz and in paperback at Boswell.

We've sold 71 in the last year (for folks in the know, that makes us #1 on Above the Treeline, almost double what the #2 bookstore sold) despite the fact that if they ask, Anne will tell inquirers that the murder does not take place on the Eiffel Tower. The book did win a prestigious French mystery prize (the Michel Lebrun prize) and the hero is a bookseller, which is reason enough to make sure we have enough stock.

Similarly, since we got the idea to sell The Power of Kindness from Garrison Keillor's Common Good Books, via our sales rep Joe, we've kept it on our front table, and just passed the 100 copy sales mark. In this case, there are other bookstores that know the secret--we're barely in the top ten on Treeline. That said, every independent bookstore should put this book on your impulse table, or your new paperback table, because if you are a general independent bookstore, it is perfect for your clientele. Great title, great package, and the book delivers--what more do you want? A concerted effort could get this book on national bestseller lists. Tarcher, the ball is in your court.

Carl Lennertz was the man who convinced us to carry a stock of Joseph Caldwell's The Pig Did it, and now it's been on and off our bestseller list for the last year. It's another book that sells in lots of indies, as so many of us listen to Carl. Here's a scooop--the rest of you should also listen to him about this book; it sells from the package, and the word of mouth is good too. Now we have an event with Mr. Caldwell this Saturday, July 3rd, at 2 PM, and I hope we've primed the pump, as he deserves a nice audience for the paperback of book #2, The Pig Comes to Dinner. I know it seems like a weird day for an event, but did I mention he's in the state for a family reunion, and you take what you can get. Actually, we were quite busy last year on the 3rd--lots of visitors with nothing to do but hang out and browse.

Folks might wonder if I would include The Tortoise and the Hare in this assortment, and I would say, not quite. We're selling the book well, but it doesn't sell itself--it needs the bookseller rec. Bev just finished it, by the way, and despite a lot of anger directed at the husband, she liked it quite a bit. A round of thanks to Jennifer at Paper Moon in McGregor, Iowa, who handsold the book to John who handsold the book to me. Here's her delightful viral video promoting visits to McGregor. Yes, it's true. They do have the loosest slots. Take that, Ames!

We're not quite sure, but I think we've inadvertently uncovered another sleeper, and in this case, we seem to be the only Treeline bookseller stocking it (though a few had special orders). It's Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Dr. Who by the Women Who Love It. Our purchase started with a special order from our pal Kathy, who suggested an event. Our local contact, Carole Barrowman, rounded up three editors and contributors from metro Chicago, and another from the Twin Cities area. Our event was way bigger than we expected, and we ordered in more stock to cover the bookplates we gave out when we ran out of books.

So here's the thing--we've continued to sell the book off our front table to folks who don't know any of the contributors, and didn't come to our event. We're closing in on 50 copies, and we're ready to do a decent-sized reorder to keep it on our front tables. I'll let any bookseller know how it winds up doing, but be warned--even if you don't sell much science fiction and fantasy, the audience for this book among your customers may be bigger than you realize.

1 comment:

Kerry said...

Great list - it's always interesting to see which sleepers become the books that really do sell themselves. When I worked at our local store, we sold through 250 copies of "Identifying Sea Shells." Who would have thought?