Walked into a chain music store in a mall not that long ago to buy a DVD and discovered they’d done something new — up at the cashier counter and in the display case across from the cash line, so that you have plenty of time to browse them as you wait to pay, the store had books, not just one or two but a heap of them very carefully arranged. Some of them were books that were then paired with their DVD adaptations in display — Twilight, etc. Some of them were non-fiction on music and music history, and a bio from Tracy Morgan who also has a new comedy CD out, and such, and then there were just a random set of books, such as Douglas Copeland’s novel Generation X. These books had obviously been packaged as a display with rotating titles for the music store chain specifically through some sort of distributor.
This is yet another sign of an expanding, renewed wholesale market for books in non-bookstore venues that has been going on the last couple of years. After the collapse of the wholesale market for books in the 1990’s, books became very concentrated in bookstores for sales, with the other wholesale outlets much reduced, and that’s had a bad impact on the growth of book sales, not to mention their visibility in the market. But now, books are getting a bigger push in department stores (which are engaged in retail and online price wars,) and being sought as inventory in a wider variety of stores. That a music chain would decide to add to its floor merchandise with books and tie-in books is a remarkably positive sign. (It should be noted here that 70% of music sales are still physical CD’s sold in places like music stores, so adding books isn’t a last ditch effort by the music store.) It’s also a more aggressive approach to take advantage of the interest in titles that comes when they get a movie adaptation, putting books and DVD’s together to make a more interesting potential package. But again, it wasn’t only books that could be easily tied in to DVD’s or music CD’s that were in the display. It will be interesting to see if similar display packages start popping up in other retailers.