“Bookstores and university presses have so much to give each other,” remarked Jeff Deutsch, Director of the Seminary Co-op Bookstore at the opening of this AUPresses 2022 panel discussion. So, what are some of the ways that university presses can work with bookstores, and how can they help improve discovery?
Events, of course, is one way. University press publicists can meet with event coordinators at bookstores and discuss books and ideas that are different from the way sales would. Colleen Lanick from Harvard University Press said, “This helps with creating innovative events and promotions, and gets the ideas we have for books in their [the bookstores] hands sooner.” Katie Hope from Princeton University Press shared a success story they had for Ides of March where they invited bookstores to participate virtually from a live streamed event in New York. In the end, about 40 bookstores engaged with the evening event in some way. Aside from events, acquisition departments can meet with new bookstore buyers and talk to them about bookselling. They can educate and guide them through things they should look for when acquiring new books.
Readers and the Community
“We don’t have a customer problem, – statements that people don’t want to ready anymore, or that people don’t want to go in stores anymore, are completely untrue – we have a communication problem,” commented Hannah Oliver Depp from Loyalty Books. “My job is to push the community, and to respond to the community’s pushing” she said about looking at new books to bring in. Scott Abel from Sold State Books similarly shared “We buy things and watch what people do. We examine what happened and make changes. We have to freshen up and pay attention every day. Bookselling is an inward examination of what we are doing every day and making changes.”
The physical form of a book plays a role in the bookstore too. Is the book tall, short, narrow? These things are considered when deciding where to place books in the store. Scott shared that while some stores like to put candy near the checkout counter, his store will sometimes place university press titles there and people will add them on to their purchase like they would a candy bar.
Easing the Difficulties and Improving Discovery
Bookstores need your help keeping people interested with a diverse range of books. And, when you send them a book to try in their store, don’t just send it to the store, put someone’s name on the package. Bookstores also want publishers to know that if you sell anything as short discount, you are basically telling them that you don’t want them to sell it as they can’t afford to put it on their shelves. Do bookstores like the price on the book? Hannah does. If the price is a little high it gives her room to discount it, and her team doesn’t have time to sticker every book as it is. Scott has even been known to send customers to a university press website to purchase a title because it might be cheaper there than what he can get it for. “So improve your websites,“ he jokingly adds. In turn, make sure your purchasing department is buying books from the bookstore and not Ingram when they need it restocked.
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