Do Booksellers Sell Too Many Non-book Items?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

colored pencils

By Edward Nawotka

Today’s lead story looks at moves to stifle Parisian bouquinistes from selling non-book items.

Walk into any bookstore and you’re likely to find a lot more on sale than just books? Stuffed animals, e-readers, bookends, notebooks, toys, reading glasses, and all other manner of merchandise crowd the shelves. Sometimes, it’s as much or more than half of what’s on sale. There are a variety of reasons why this is so, not the least of which is the fact that profit on non-book items can be significantly higher than on books. But there are also risks, notably the fact that non-book items — unlike books — are non-returnable and it takes a sharp buyer to know what will sell and what they might get stuck with to gather dust until it’s shuttled out of the store at a deep discount.

What this trend has led to are numerous stores that look like more stores that sell books, rather than actual bookstores.┬áIn your opinion, at what point does a bookstore risk becoming a mere store that sells books? Do you think that bookstores in general sell too many non-book related items? Do you think that in the long-term it changes how people think of bookstores, thus giving them de-facto permission to buy books “guilt free” wherever they can find them? After all, if Target sells the same books and Barnes & Noble and Barnes & Noble sells several of the same things Target does — so what’s the difference in the long term?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

Edward Nawotka is the Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. A former foreign correspondent, he has covered the book business exclusively since 2000, serving as daily news editor for Publishers Weekly and columnist for Bloomberg News.