You can benefit from the opportunity of selling to special sales (non-bookstore) buyers by dividing the total market into two segments, and selling to them according to their needs. The first is the retail segment where you reach buyers through distribution partners. The second is direct sales to non-retailer buyers (businesses, associations, schools…) that use books as marketing tools to sell more of their products or help their employees, members, or students. Here are the Top Ten Places to Sell More of Your Books (five retail and five non-retail).
1. Discount stores and warehouse clubs. Books are discounted heavily and do not offer the same margins as some larger-ticket products. Therefore, these retailers limit shelf space to brand-name authors and top-selling books. But, they also buy from local publishers.
2. Airport stores. Books on management, biographies, personal finance, and health sell well among business travelers. Books for children also do well here, especially children’s activity books. Popular fiction always sells in these stores.
3. Supermarkets and pharmacies. Cookbooks, travel books and regional titles move through supermarkets, but health-related topics sell better in pharmacies. Children’s titles also seem to do well in supermarkets, yet fiction remains the mainstay there.
4. Gift shops. This category includes hotels, hospitals, museums, zoos and national parks as well as large chains such as Pottery Barn, Yankee Candle, Pier One, Crate & Barrel, Hallmark Stores and Spencer Gifts. Reach these outlets through direct marketing, sales-representative groups, and by attending trade shows and gift marts.
5. Specialty stores. Consider selling your books through pet shops, auto-supply stores, camera shops, toy stores, or business-supply stores – retailers that serve identifiable groups of people with a common interest in your content.
6. Businesses. There are two areas of opportunity here. One is Human Resources, where employee recognition and motivation is a growing trend. The other is product or brand managers that may use your books to introduce new products, to reward buyers for making a purchase, or as a gift to customers.
7. Associations. There are over 135,000 membership organizations worldwide. Consider two major ways to sell to them. The first is “cause marketing” where you donate a percentage of each sale to a charitable, non-profit organization to help finance their cause. The other approach is to sell books directly to the association, to be used as a premium or to re-sell through their bookstores.
8. Schools. The academic marketplace is an opportune segment for publishers, one using books as a foundation for its existence. This segment impacts people of all ages, from pre-school through graduate school and adult education courses. Regardless of the grade, age of student, college major, or choice of home, public or private education, the need for books is ubiquitous.
9. Government. How would you like to sell to a customer that needs your content, has virtually unlimited funds, and does not return your books? There is such as customer — it is your own federal government. Don’t forget state and local agencies as well.
10.Military. In this segment you can sell books domestically or overseas, through military exchanges, to Department of Defense Dependent Schools, to sailors onboard ships, to retired military personnel, and to the families of military personnel.
Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales and author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books and Beyond the Bookstore.