Monday, August 8, 2011

Rejection Selection

One area where remainders can have an impact is in differentiating you from your competition.

A funny thing sometimes happens during the course of my day. I receive orders from various customers for books which other customers have turned down, sometimes vocally and stridently. Some of my best sellers are only so because one or two customers buy them in significant numbers. There are times when one customer will order something frequently enough to entice them to start ordering it from the publisher. And it could be anything. It has even happened when one customer is blocks away from the other.

As an independent bookseller, you have a unique knowledge of your customer, your community, your ability to sell one book or category above another. You have been hearing this for years from the ABA and all the indie pride bloggers, but you might not realize how powerful this is until you really start looking at remainder lists, maybe not until you've been buying them for a while and have a section of your store or postings turning over regularly.

Then you walk into another store and look at their bargain selections, if they have one, and realize how yours, which sells well and excites your customers, is so different. This does not happen so much with new books. There will be some. But the nature of remainders and buying remainders usually creates a greater difference between bargain selections than front list. You have strong opinions about what can sell well in your store, but much stronger opinions about what can't, and you turn that on full force when you're looking at a remainder list. Oddly, the guy down the street has a very different idea of what makes up the muck at the bottom of the pond, as does the remainder buyer at Wal Mart, and the one at Barnes & Noble has a completely different idea again.

Now go add a table to your bargain section and get creative.

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