Supermarkets and pharmacies are two examples of places you can sell books, even while many bookstores are closed. Depending on your content, there are other outlets to consider. Seize opportunities and remain profitable.
Many brick and mortar bookstores are currently closed due to the Coronavirus, and many authors and publishers are waiting it out, hoping to sell their books through those that eventually reopen. But if you look around, there are many places through which you can sell books now — including supermarkets and pharmacies
There are tens of thousands of supermarkets and pharmacies of all sizes around the country and many of them sell books. In the past, most book sales through these outlets were mass market paperbacks, but today’s superstores carry a wide variety of books, cards, and magazines.
Book selection criteria
Certain types of books sell better than others in supermarkets and pharmacies. Since these outlets cater to a specific customer base made up primarily of women, books directed toward them tend to sell best. However, it is possible to sell content that is relevant to all family members — especially children. Your content on family activities while quarantined will be welcomed.
Furthermore, this is one area in which fiction outsells nonfiction. Other titles that sell well in supermarkets and pharmacies are those written by local and regional authors, as well as those about local and regional topics. And softcover books almost always outsell hardcover titles — particularly in supermarkets.
Pricing your books
Independent publishers have a good shot at sales in this market segment, but know your costs. Supermarkets discount the list price up to 25 percent, so your pricing must allow for that (as well as allowing for your distributor’s fees). The list price on most books sold in pharmacies is less than $20, and the list price on most books sold in supermarkets is less than $10, though the price can go up to $20 or more for hardcover books sold in supermarkets.
Submitting your book for distribution
If you are working with a distribution partner, it may already be selling to supermarkets and pharmacies. If not, below is the contact information for the major distribution partners involved in these markets. When you submit your book to these middlemen, include a high-quality, one-page piece of sales literature that describes how and why your book will sell well through these retailers. Your submission package should also contain a summary of your marketing plan listing your proposed promotional activity, as well as the top 10 reasons why people who shop at these stores will buy your book. Furthermore, be sure to include the price, author, case quantities, and a photo of any floor displays you could provide.
Symak Sales Company “is a leading importer and distributor of general merchandise throughout North America. Symak products can be found in a wide range of retailers and wholesalers, including discount stores, variety stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, distributors, department stores, and dollar stores.”
Readerlink Distribution Services “is the largest full-service distributor of hardcover, trade, and paperback books to non-trade channel booksellers in North America, including the biggest names in retail across multiple retail channels.”
Choice Books distributes books through more than 11,500 displays in various retail locations (i.e. supermarkets, mass merchandisers, airports, pharmacies, travel centers, gift shops, etc.) across the continental United States, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. At regular intervals, Choice Books sales representatives visit each retail location, replenishing best-selling books and replacing damaged/slow-moving books with new books. Major book categories include family living, self-help, devotional, entertainment, gift, cookbooks, adult/juvenile fiction and bibles.
If you are a publisher and would like Choice Books to distribute your titles, mail a catalog of your titles to Choice Books, 963 Reservoir Street, Suite 200, Harrisonburg, VA 22801. Your catalog should include retail prices and the purchasing discount available to Choice Books. They purchase books on a non-returnable basis in case quantities, paying all freight costs.
Supermarkets and pharmacies are just two examples of places through which you can sell books today. Look around for other opportunities. Depending on your content, hospitals, travel centers, liquor stores, and pet stores may be others that you can consider. These times require a little creativity, but those who seize the opportunities will be more likely to remain profitable.
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