Last week's Crains NY Business has an article about big cuts in initial orders at Borders that have publishers unhappy. I'd link, except you can't read the article without a subscription, which I don't have. Basically, orders on some titles look to be 10% to 50% below what publishers might have been expecting. And the ongoing closures of Waldenbooks locations are hurting sales in sf/fantasy and romance in particular. (Many of the stores that closed probably not selling much on an individual basis, but if you aggregate, it adds up.) Yes, books can be reordered, but Borders doesn't have the supply chain that gives me a lot of confidence on that front. B&N is more iikely to end up in a good place from a smaller initial.
I'm starting to see signs of a quicker hook on some titles at Borders, following on their efforts to reduce title count and increase face-outs which I discussed here. As an example, the fifth and final book in a JABberwocky sold series is on the way out at the Park Ave. store, even though it just sold the 5th of five initial order copies from September. That's a hook. Sell five copies in seven months, and get the hook? That's harsh, and something I don't think would have happened a year or two ago. You can justify/rationalize; the earlier books in the series weren't selling much and aren't easy to find so it might be tough to say you'll find new series fans to keep buying copies if Borders reorders them, and this particular book is selling only a few dozen copies a week right now according to Bookscan. Nonetheless, this is harsh. It's pushing the book to its death instead of letting it fall on its own.
Borders has some intriguing action in its front of store. The NYC stores last week unveiled a new arrangement where the tables at the front that have been reserved for new hardcovers since the inception of Borders 30 years ago are now being used for the top 10 fiction and non-fiction bestsellers. However, it's mostly a swap since there used to be bestseller bays on the walls or along the side, and those bays now seem to have the new hardcover titles that used to be on the tables. Still, it's a pretty radical thing to change those tables after all these years. The change hadn't yet been rolled out in the Newark DE store or the downtown Philly stores that I visited on Friday, but the people I've asked in NY are telling me this is going chain-wide and that they aren't just testing. I really like the big multi-level seasonal table that's being rolled out, and currently featuring an array of father's day gifts.
The first of their new concept stores to open in the NE is arriving in Southbury CT. Soft opening may be May 22, grand opening the weekend of May 30/June 1. I'm not sure I can get up on the 22nd for a variety of reasons, but if not then definitely the grand opening weekend. I am very eager to see.
- The Brillig Blogger
- A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.