With so many books available, from so many different publishers, many retailers aren’t sure where to start when it comes to selecting the right titles for a range. So, whether you want to breathe new life into an existing book range or you’re looking to introduce books into your shop for the first time, here are some top tips to get you started.

Start with your customers

The first question to ask is always, who are your customers? Once you establish the key demographic for your retail offering, you can better understand the themes, price points, and formats you need to prioritise when selecting books. Knowing whether you attract regular repeat customers or one-off visitors will influence how you approach building and developing your range.

Consider your retail and design themes

As a retailers based in a museum, gallery or visitor attraction you will of course be driven by the themes of your organisation when selecting products, and books are a great way of telling those stories. Design and trends also play a key role though – check out the Cultural Enterprises Best Publication and Best Children’s Publication Awards Finalists for some inspiration!

Keep an open mind and stay customer focused

It’s important to think beyond your specialist themes too. It always comes back to who is visiting your retail space and why, so it often makes commercial sense to include books that will appeal to a broader audience, not just the subject enthusiasts. Many bestselling children’s games and books do just as well in specialist museums or galleries as they do in high street gift shops.

Keep things fresh

How often you change your range will depend on how many repeat customers you attract. Use the changing seasons as a prompt to seek out new books on the themes that will more closely match what your customer is looking for at different points in the year. For cultural and heritage retailers in particular, time-limited exhibitions and one-off events can provide new opportunities for adding some new books into your ranges.

Be data driven

It’s always tempting to be swayed by a stunning cover or compelling blurb from a publisher, but it’s crucial to be guided by your sales data when deciding what to list. Make sure you look at your sales history and KPIs to inform your choices.

Set a minimum standard for how many copies each book should sell in a set period, and if a particular title isn’t hitting the sales at the rate it should, cut it from your range – it’s simply taking up the space of something that could perform better.

Sometimes less is more

It may seem counter-intuitive but sometimes it’s best to slim down your book range, particularly if the volume of books you have is getting in the way of effective visual merchandising – too much choice can be overwhelming for customers. It’s a good idea to display books face out and integrate them with other product ranges, even if this means offering fewer titles on the shop floor.

It’s okay to judge a book by its cover

In physical retail spaces customers are seeking a tactile experience, so it’s important to consider a book’s appearance. We are always drawn to beautifully produced books with stunning illustrations or photography and any special details on the cover that can attract attention and increase dwell time.

Bookspeed work with retailers of all levels of experience, offering access to the best books from across the market and support to curate book ranges tailored to your customers. They also take care of sourcing and delivery so you and your team can focus on creating inspiring retail experiences for your customers.
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Angus Reid
By Angus Reid
Angus Reid is a Senior Key Account Manager working for Bookspeed. Based in Edinburgh, Bookspeed has been curating and supplying book ranges for retailers across the heritage, cultural, gift and lifestyle sectors for more than 30 years.
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