Hints, Tips, Ideas, Excoriations

1. Impulse Power
Bargain books are the best at creating impulse buys. Stack them near your point of sale and mix it up often so that your repeat customers have something new to tempt them every time they visit. Put same authors or like titles near the front list newer works. Small islands of bargain among the newest children's books or cookbooks will keep everybody coming back for more.

2. Build or expand a section with bargain. 

Used and bargain stores do this all the time, but I know at least one new bookstore that relied on bargain to build their poetry section. They started by experimenting with poets they were not sure about and ended up ordering at least 2 of all poetry titles at least once. Their frontlist poetry buys eventually doubled as a result.

3. Allow for freight costs in your pricing. 

If a book is published at $14.95 and you're buying it for $2.25, and you would like to price at $4.95, try pricing at $5.95 to recover your freight costs.

4. Over-order a little. 
If a list shows 5 copies of a title you want to order 10 of, order 10. You might get them. Just make sure you really want the 10 and are not just trying to weight the average in hopes of getting a better fill rate overall. That does not work. Much.

5. Send me your wish list. 
These can be books you have seen elsewhere on a bargain table and want to get some, or authors you don't see enough of on my lists and would buy if you saw them.

6. Bargain books and remainders sell better when stacked or at least faced out. 
If you have to keep some spine out on shelves, try rotating them out with your table stacks at least every few days.

7. Alternate your stacks. 
Girl, boy, light, dark, serious, humorous. This will increase impulse sales. Have your laugh at such a preposterous notion, then, when nobody's looking, try it. You will be surprised at how well it works.

8. Keep moving your stacks around.
Keeps things looking fresh. Different customers see different things in different places at different times.

9. Do sidewalk sales.
Another way to reward your customers and attract new ones.

10. Create a bargain new arrivals table. 
Try to keep it at least 75% actual new arrivals, otherwise it can be off-putting.

11. Don't correct your customer's pronunciation. 
Wodehouse rhymes with good house and Proust rhymes with roost, but embarrassing people in front of their peers, significant others, or themselves won't increase your sales. 
(Thank you to David Schwartz)

12. Reorder. 
Are you looking for trade secrets? Ignore everything else I say and learn this: 
If you buy 5 copies of a title and it sells out fast, buy 10 more. If they sell out fast again, buy 20. You might be surprised by how much business you can generate just by doing this one simple thing. 

13. Don't be a cherry picker

Ok, everybody's a cherry picker, but don't just pick one or two cherries. I have a customer (well, had a customer) who only wants me to alert him if I have copies of Make Way for Ducklings. He'll take all I ever get, pay my price, condition is not important. The only problem with this approach is that there is no way he will ever get any copies. Many of my customers buy a few to a lot of this title whenever it is on my lists, which is rarely. They also pay my price and don't mind condition, within reason. They are loyal customers who buy month in, month out. So who am I, or any wholesaler, going to reward when the rare few copies show up on a list? 

14. Okay, be a cherry picker... for categories

In this paragraph from Ben Archer's Book of Opposites I will contradict about half of what I say elsewhere. You should still experiment with categories and authors you are not well stocked in, but also focus on your strengths. If you have a big customer base in music books or cookbooks or children's books, those are where you should buy heavy in bargain. If 50% of your frontlist sales are in children's, your remainder buying budget should reflect that. Use some of the other half for experimentation. 

15. Giveaways

No, not your giveaways -- your customers'. This is a B2B project for you, and it's a great way to make some good bargain sales, profits, and generate good customer relationships. Go to local schools, libraries, institutions, and businesses and let them know you can support their giveaway programs at much better costs than their other sources. Supply lists for them to buy from for these programs from your bargain sources. If you let your bargain source know what you're doing they can usually recommend good titles for this project. If your customer orders hundreds, confirm with your bargain vendor and, if they're in stock, you have a nice chunk of business that makes everybody happy.

16. Specify Ship Windows. 

Since there are so few of you reading this blog, I might as well give you an unfair advantage over the competition by giving you a very quick and easy tip.

When you place your orders, you should indicate a ship window. This should be something reasonable, such as starting maybe a day or two after you place your order and closing ten or 14 days later.

I know this sounds silly, but those among your competitors who do this inevitably get shipped first. If you occasionally get shipped way late and wonder why, just try this on your next series of orders and see what happens. 

This is somewhat different than a cancel date. Cancel dates imply that if the vendor has not shipped, they should cancel the order and forget about it. Ship windows leave a little more flexibility. On a separate note, if you really are not flexible, you really should indicate a cancel date.

This is also different than a rush order. If you need the order rushed, you should simply put "RUSH" on it, plus a cancel date.

As a sales rep I enter instructions on your orders before submitting them, such as "pack in cartons" to avoid having your order shipped loose-strapped on a pallet, or "pack carefully, no damages" if I know the vendor, shall we say, too well. But ship windows I need to get from you or I can't put it in, so let me know.

No guarantees here, but if you try this and get shipped faster on average, I am always willing to take credit, due or not. 

None of this is to imply that it is somehow your fault when a supplier takes way too long to ship, or when I, being an old dunderhead, drop the ball and don't follow through properly, which certainly happens. This is just to give you one more card to play in hopes of getting the best service you can.

And yes, I will know you've been reading my blog when you give me a ship window on your next order (but I won't say anything). 

17. Dump your oldest stock

One day you're going to look at your bargain stock and recognize books here and there that you bought way back when you started and realize that you never sold one copy. Or maybe you sold a few two years ago and then they stopped selling and you keep moving them around. The problem with keeping them is that, no matter how great a buyer you are, you are going to pick a few chestnuts now and then, and if you don't weed them out at least once or twice in a blue moon, they will make your sections look tired. Donate, gift, pulp, or make furniture out of them, just don't wait for your customers to stop looking at your bargain section before you figure it out.


  1. Replies
    1. You're welcome, and thank you for reading!

    2. I am working on getting a remainder book buying job and this site has done wonders for my understanding of the subject, thanky you