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Random question about book organization at the bookstore

 
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Niftybergin



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 1094

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 5:56 pm    Post subject: Random question about book organization at the bookstore Reply with quote

I work very, very, very part-time for my local Barnes & Noble. I used to be regular weekends, and now I'm just "on call." Anyway, I proposed to our store manager that we reorganize our romance section just a bit, but I'm curious if my proposition would appeal to other romance readers, or if I am alone in thinking it would be a good idea.

Right now, we currently have all romance books -- paranormals, historicals, contemporaries, romantica, etc. -- shelved together, alphabetically by author. I suggested that we pull out the trade-sized romances -- most of which, although not all, are romantica -- and put them in a bay of their own, alphabetized by author. That way if a reader comes in and they're specifically looking for romantica, they can go to the bay in the romance section where the trade-sized books are shelved and find all the romantica together. They wouldn't have to sort through hundreds of titles that have no appeal.

My manager (a man) seems very resistent to this idea. Part of his resistence, I think, is just corporate in nature. Barnes and Noble wants everything to be shelved the same, from store to store to store. I've tried to explain this would not be too much of an obstacle for booksellers. If a customer requests a book and the computer shows that it's shelved in romance, go to the romance section and look first in the one big section -- where everything is shelved alphabetically by author -- and search for the title. If you come up empty, proceed to the next romance section -- the one with the trade-sized paperbacks -- and search again. You're going to find the book, with very little effort. And as for the process of shelving the books, that would not be difficult either since I am proposing putting the trade-sized books in a different location. The bookseller wouldn't have to make any decisions about Is this or Is this not a romantica novel. They would simply see that it was trade-sized and put it in the trade-sized section.

But also, my manager said that he worried that people would not browse the entire section as much and that we could lose sales. I actually think he's wrong on that score. It seems to me that most romance readers come to our store with an idea of what they want, by author or title. Or they want a particular type of romance. All I'm proposing is making it easy to shop one particular TYPE of romance.

Anyway, I'm just curious what the rest of you readers think. Does this sound like a good idea to you? If you were in the market for a romantica novel -- no particular author or title in mind -- would you prefer to browse through the entire romance section, or would you prefer to go straight to a section that was most likely to house predominantly romantica novels?

As a customer, I have noticed that both Borders and BAM seem to cull out the trade-sized books and shelve them separately, and I very much like that. I just wanted to know what other readers prefer.
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Tinabelle



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 875
Location: SE Wisconsin

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think your reorganization ideas are excellent; you've got my vote! I have always wished that the romance section was broken down a bit into sub-genres. IMHO, it would make searching for specific books so much more efficient and you could browse in your own sub-genre with a lot more ease. I think a lot of romance readers read by sub-genre anyway. For example, I read a lot of historicals. If I knew I could go to a "historical romance section" without having to wade through all of the vampire books, urban fantasy, erotica, chick lit., etc., I would be thrilled.

And I disagree with your manager's fear that sales would drop because people would browse less. I think the opposite would be true. Although the romance section is not that huge, there are hundreds and hundreds of books. Sometimes it is frustrating to just browse or more time consuming because you have to wade through so many different types of romances. I think people would browse MORE under your organizational system. I would. If I am interested in finding a new historical book/author, for example, I could just browse the historicals section. I am not going to pick up a vampire book just because it is shelved next to a historical.

I hope that you can convince your manager to give it a try. It would be an interesting experiment to see what effect it would have on sales and what kind of feedback you would get from customers. I bet it would be positive. I would love it if it caught on everywhere! Good luck.
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NoirFemme



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1481
Location: America

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 1:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's funny! The B&N in my neighborhood has the trade paperbacks separated from the regular romance novels, and every Borders in my area does that as well. I think you should have him stand in the romance aisle for a day and watch readers browse with the shelves the normal way, then have him watch the romance aisle with the shelves the way you want to organize them.
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

+IHS+

My bookstore used to have a special section for all Trade paperbacks, regardless of genre. You can imagine that that didn't work out very well.

For the past two months, though, the Trade Romances have been shelved along with the Mass Market Romances. The Mass Market ones are first, in alphabetical order; and the Trade paperbacks are at the end, also in alphabetical order. I'm not a Romantica reader, but that arrangement makes a lot of sense to me. Smile

Good luck convincing your boss, Nifty! Very Happy
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Barnes and Noble has all romance (Trade and regular) shelved under the author's name. Personally, I like it that way, but that may just be my frame of mind. I like just looking under the author's name and it is, or isn't there. I don't want to go to another section. xina
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PatW



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 640
Location: Gulf coast Florida

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xina wrote:
My Barnes and Noble has all romance (Trade and regular) shelved under the author's name. Personally, I like it that way, but that may just be my frame of mind. I like just looking under the author's name and it is, or isn't there. I don't want to go to another section. xina


If I'm shopping for a specific book, I might get annoyed by having different sections (having helpful employees who could direct me would overcome this - a recent excellent experience in a B&N in Milwaukee comes to mind).

However, If I'm browsing for a new author then some type of sorting by sub-genre is welcome.
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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1384

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You have to be careful with genre or sub-genre organization of bookstores. What if you end up organizing the books in a way that doesn’t match customer thinking? Several UBS I know have sub-genre sections. Where do you put a paranormal historical if there are separate paranormal and historical shelves? At one UBS I regularly gave my search list to the owner after I thought I had checked all the right places and she would find books I had missed because she knew where they were shelved.
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Niftybergin



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 1094

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:
You have to be careful with genre or sub-genre organization of bookstores. What if you end up organizing the books in a way that doesn’t match customer thinking? Several UBS I know have sub-genre sections. Where do you put a paranormal historical if there are separate paranormal and historical shelves? At one UBS I regularly gave my search list to the owner after I thought I had checked all the right places and she would find books I had missed because she knew where they were shelved.


But again...I'm not proposing reorganizing by subgenre. Rather, I'm proposing pulling out the TRADE-SIZED paperbacks...MOST of which just happen to be romantica...and putting them in a section at the end (or beginning) of the romance section. I'm not proposing grouping all the paranormals together, or the historicals, or the contemporaries. I'm suggesting pulling out the larger, non-mass-market-paperback books out and putting them together.

Just to clarify...
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Kass



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wait...you mean, there are bookstores where they shelve trades with regular size? I have yet to see one.
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kass wrote:
Wait...you mean, there are bookstores where they shelve trades with regular size? I have yet to see one.




Really? Where do you live Kass? My bookstore(s) shelve all sizes together.
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Linda in sw va



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 4708

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I personally prefer to have them all shelved together, that way I can quickly look them up by author without having to try one section first and then another if I am unsure what subsection they would be placed in. BooksAMillion separates out their historical romance from regular romance and that always drove me nuts. I prefer to keep things simple.

I also think your manager is right in that they might lose sales that arise from customers browsing. There are many books I've discovered that I never would have if I had stuck with only the 'section' of subgenre that I came in for. As my eyes scan the shelves looking for that author's last name I become intrigued by covers or titles and end up pulling them out and looking at them closer.

Our Barnes and Nobel mixes in regular and tradesize paperbacks, also hardcovers are mixed in as well.

Linda
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1666

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 8:39 pm    Post subject: Shelving Reply with quote

Linda in sw va wrote:
I personally prefer to have them all shelved together, that way I can quickly look them up by author without having to try one section first and then another if I am unsure what subsection they would be placed in. BooksAMillion separates out their historical romance from regular romance and that always drove me nuts. I prefer to keep things simple.

I also think your manager is right in that they might lose sales that arise from customers browsing. There are many books I've discovered that I never would have if I had stuck with only the 'section' of subgenre that I came in for. As my eyes scan the shelves looking for that author's last name I become intrigued by covers or titles and end up pulling them out and looking at them closer.

Our Barnes and Noble mixes in regular and tradesize paperbacks, also hardcovers are mixed in as well.

Linda


I'm with Linda on this one. My local Borders pretty much shelves all the books in a genre together, and it's much easier to find all the books by an author that way plus browse for other stuff at the same time. I don't know that I'd bother to go to a second romance section to go through the trade size PB after having browsed the mass market PB -- I kind of get into sensory overload as it is, and I don't see myself moving to another section for the same kind of book, just a different size. I'm more willing to do so for a completely separate genre (mystery or literary fiction or whatever) than for more books of the same genre. It's confusing enough when some authors are shelved in two or more places (Jennifer Crusie or Elizabeth Lowell, for example).

Maybe you could ask your manager to do an experiment for a month: try your method and see if sales increase. It's a bit of work, but it may very well be worth it.
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Kass



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Really? Where do you live Kass? My bookstore(s) shelve all sizes together.

I live in the Midwest.
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