The National Park Service turns 100 on August 25, 2016. It seems fitting that this week’s post takes a look at how publishers can sell books through gift shops in parks and historic sites.
There are two major ways to sell to buyers at gift shops. One is to work through independent sales representatives found at http://www.greatrep.com. This site provides several entry points. Contact salespeople directly under “Lines Wanted,” or list your book in the “Reps Wanted” section. There is also a list of upcoming wholesale trade gift shows at which you can exhibit and/or network.
Second are third-party operators (such as those listed below) that buy for gift shops in parks and historical centers. They work in partnership with the retail outlets to ensure that their guests have a meaningful experience and can extend their experience by discovering relevant products in their stores.
- Event Network (http://www.eventnetwork.com) manages stores on behalf of many cultural attractions at iconic landmarks and historic sites such as Gettysburg National Military Park and The Alamo. Started in 1998, Event Network is now the leading operator of cultural attraction stores worldwide.
Eastern National (http://easternnational.org) was founded in 1947 to serve the National Park system. It operates more than 150 units of the National Park Service in the Eastern United States, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.
Eastern National is also an independent publisher producing educational products for the National Park Service. “Our publications are different from those developed by traditional publishers,” Erin Sweeney, Inventory Replenishment Manager at Eastern National explains, “because Eastern National collaborates directly with the parks to produce educational material to fit specific needs within the park.”
- The Western National Parks Association (www.wnpa.org) is the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service and 71 national parks in the western United States. WNPA ensures that all products, services, and programs enrich the visitor experience.
The core purpose of all three of these entities is identical. Laura O’Neal, a book buyer at Event Network summarized their singular objective by saying, “Our goal is to create an extension of the guest experience at each of our partnerships. We source books that provide educational value and that offer an opportunity for visitors to explore and learn more about the different concepts and exhibits that they have just experienced. We also look to represent local authors and titles that celebrate the particular region or area in which the venue is located.”
They usually buy books on a non-returnable basis with discounts ranging from 50% to 70% off list price. Sweeney says, “The price should be under $20,” and books priced at approximately $10 to $15 sell best.
Sales to parks and historical sites are seasonal, with sales peaking in the period from late May to early September. In general, hardcover books sell better than softcover books since parents seek books their children will be able to enjoy and keep as a memento of their visit to the venue. However, there are exceptions, as Sweeney points out: “Softcover books outsell hardcover in most cases in our stores.”
A major decision criterion of buyers is your content’s fit with the store’s image and customer base. In addition, books selected are generally site specific. According to Sweeney, “Few books are relevant to all our locations.” When you send your package to Eastern National, Sweeney recommends that you “Include a copy of the book and a sell sheet describing the data I need to make a decision.” Visit the stores and get a good sense of what they are about, and then submit your book with a description of how your content fits with the retailer’s mission and visitors.
Billions of dollars are spent in gift shops every year, and you can get your share of this market. Do your homework and submit a professional package that demonstrates how your content is different, better, and perfectly suited to their stores and guests.
Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales and author of How to Make Real Money Sellling Books.