So it's possible you've heard from different places, a blog somewhere or your editor trying to explain why your new offer is so low, that Barnes & Noble has cut back their orders.
Boy, are they!
B&N has long had a fixture called the New Mass Market Tower. It's the square thing that usually sits in the central aisle of the stores that's around six feet tall, four rows across and maybe eight or so down, with new mass market books.
A publisher pays to put your new mass market on the new mass market tower, of course B&N also has to agree they'd like it there because there are only so many books that can go on it over the course of the month and way more to choose from than that. But your publisher has to want it there.
And for all those years, it used to be that being on this fixture meant that pretty much every Barnes & Noble was going to get 8 copies of your new sf/fantasy book, other than for the really most awful stores for sf/fantasy where they would put in an initial order of 6 copies.
Those are nice numbers. You could certainly fill one pocket on the tower, maybe even fill two pockets, and maybe even have a copy or two left over to go back into the section.
Well, not any more.
Now a publisher is paying to get a book on to the New Mass Market Tower, and B&N is ordering 3 copies for the bad stores, 5 copies for somewhat better stores, dramatically fewer copies.
So, big picture, where once B&N might routinely have ordered 6000 copies in exchange for a New Mass Market Tower placement to cover store stock and a ready reserve for the warehouse, now it could be more like 4250 or 4500.
Little picture, let's look at those bad-in-genre stores that had gotten 6 copies and are now getting 3. Well, 3 isn't going to fill 2 pockets, so maybe you'll only get one. For thinner books, 3 copies might not even fill a pocket. Either way, there's no extra copy to go in section, so some dedicated genre fans who bee-line to the section might not notice your new book on the Tower. If one copy sells, all of a sudden there are only 2 copies in a pocket that can fit 3 or 4 so it's harder to see the book on the Tower, the display looks forlorn and lonely. B&N has a great supply chain and can get more copies of a new book from warehouse to store in a couple of days, but if demands at any of these stores is way stronger than expected you're still looking at maybe having only one copy for a day or two or maybe even going clean before the 72 hours it might take to get a box opened. To have this happening now... I can think of some B&Ns where demand might uptick because a nearby Borders has closed, it's a bad time to decide to be less robust in your ordering.
Will these things cost sales? Of course! If the initial order is down by 25%, if some stores are getting 50% fewer copies -- well, it doesn't matter if you have the same placement, this is going to have an effect.
But not to worry, you'll still find plenty of ways to accessorize your Nook.
- The Brillig Blogger
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