Every writer should tour a bookstore in the company of a manager. Did this yesterday for a class. The manager had 24 years' experience in the business. Bookstore facts:
- A new book's lifespan on the displays "up front" is seven to 21 days. The book then moves to "the stacks" or regular shelving.
- A new book's lifespan in the stacks is 90 days.
- After 90 days the bookstore and publisher begin the process of returning the unsold books to the publisher for credit.
- The bookstore's "bestseller" rack may be the bookstore's bestsellers, not the NYT's.
- New hardcovers can be priced at 20 to 30 percent off the cover price because the publishers have given the bookstore a promotion subsidy.
- Today's big-box bookstore carries about 95,000 titles. At peak in the 1990s, it carried an average of 135,000 titles. What got cut? Books from small publishers.
- At a chain bookstore, the displays at the ends of aisles, called "endcaps," are subsidized by publishers.
- On the shelves, some titles are displayed facing front, while others show only their spines. The publishers of the full-front books have paid the bookstore for the privilege. "It really sells books."