An article in the March 12, 2008, Wall Street Journal describes Borders Bookstores decision to display books with front covers facing out poses several interesting challenges and opportunities for authors, literary agents, editors, and publicists. Front covers, as Kathi Dunn and Ron Hobart described on a recent interview for Published & Profitable members, play a major role in book sales. This was reinforced by Borders’ president, George Jones, quoted in the Wall Street Journal article, saying that their research indicated that titles with front covers experienced a 9% sales increase.
Yet, there is a penalty for that 9% sales increase. In order to devote more space to titles displayed front cover forward, the typical Border’s superstore will have to reduce the number of titles displayed from anywhere between 4,675 to 9,350 titles per store!
So, what does this mean for authors, agents, and editors?
- For authors, agents, and editors, whose titles are displayed facing forward, it may mean 9% more sales per Borders outlet.
- But, for those whose titles are cut from each store’s inventory, it means something else entirely, possibly a loss of visibility to casual shoppers who visit bookstores to scan the shelves and find out what’s available.
What do you think?
What’s your perspective? Who do you think has the most to gain, and who has the most to lose? I’d be interested to hear your comments. Does this change make your job easier or harder?