On my wanders in and through bookshops recently, I have particularly noticed the new book displays which retailers present to the public. Of course, I know, intellectually, that these are always designed to entice the shopper to buy the targeted title – as are all merchandise displays. The retailer may have different reasons for showing off certain titles than we, as purchaser, expect. Sometimes the retailer may highlight titles with a high profit margin because of astute buying or extra discounts from suppliers; or titles which though new are not selling well; or titles which are regarded as popular rather than quality literature, or even to clear old stock in preparation for new arrivals.
But on the other hand, have I always been aware of it? And are you? It’s great to be able to walk into a shop and have my (our) attention focussed on the glitziest display – whatever genre or format it might be. But does it mean that I (we) miss other things which might fulfil our need just as much? And do we miss seeing the most recent publications?
Recent visits to a couple of large multi-national bookshops have reinforced my view that as a shopper I need to look carefully at the stock and not rely on the retailer’s choices. On a visit to the children’s section of one particular store I didn’t see any ‘proper’ displays. There were books ‘cover out’ but very few of these were newly published. There were piles of titles with discounted/reduced prices, almost of which were definitely older publications. In itself, that’s not a bad thing, although it is if the shopper is not knowledgeable and thinks that they are buying new. It is also something which has even more impact in our digital age, particularly if online buyers rely on the website to ‘recommend’ titles.
So the old adage, “buyer beware” is sound advice for all of us. As is the need for each of us to make sure we keep up to date with what publishers are producing. And the best way to do that is to be a regular visitor to your local bookshop.
*What do you think? Are you influenced by book displays? Do you think they're all about the money? Having worked in the children's section of a book shop, I know I displayed the books I loved! But is it always the case? Let us know your thoughts!