Wednesday, July 22, 2009

On Target

What makes a best seller? Is it stacking it high on sale or return in bookstores, is it a good review in the best newspaper or the kiss of Oprah, is it the right price offer? All these help and marketing sells books, but often the focus is still on that 13 week window and then it moves onto the next bestseller. Does the consumer know what is front list and in many cases do they care?

Michael Cader introduced us to a New York Times report on, ‘Target Can Make Sleepy Titles Into Best Sellers’ which was about how outlets such as Target can make significant sales on what would appear to be failures. By selecting a title as one of its Bookmarked Club Picks, the book gets prominent display throughout the chain’s stores and sales follow. Players such as Target can also benefit under the special sales umbrella, buy into print runs, take a minimised risk and enjoy a calculated return.

Target, Wal-Mart and Costco have a proven ability to sell significant quantities of books and often trade on high profile titles such as Harry Potter. However, Target has been quietly building its book club, a program it calls Bookmarked Breakout, and promoting and selling largely unknown writers. Target’s 1,700 stores carries about 2,500 titles each, are of a predictable range of genre and interestingly are faced out (so much for publisher brand). The book club promotions are house are set apart often at those important end of aisles.

In some cases Target sales outstrip any other outlet and Jacqueline Updike, director of adult sales at Random House says, ‘Target can sell hundreds of thousands of copies of a book that is virtually unknown in the rest of the marketplace.”

Target select and sell like a bookseller should using a panel of Target employees who meet monthly to review submissions from publishers. The panel may select classics, unknown authors or bestsellers and the publisher is asked to produce a special edition, and the author requested to write a letter addressed to Target readers.

We often deride the large mass market retailers but we forget that the reason they are where they are is that they understand retail; selection, marketing and selling.

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