By: John Caddell

Seen books in any strange places lately? As the New York Times discusses in today's paper, nontraditional outlets for books are proving to be publishing's best hedge against declines in book sales in superstores and mass merchandisers.

More than just a way to capitalize on the "long tail" phenomenon, pairing the right book with the right outlet can mean significant sales volumes. "Specialty outlets," for one publisher at least, now sell more books than independent booksellers. Says the Times:

With the proper placement, a book displayed at a national chain like Urban Outfitters can easily sell more there than at any other retailer, including blockbuster stores like Barnes & Noble. A recent article in Publishers Weekly noted that one surprise fall hit, “Wall and Piece,” written by the graffiti artist Banksy and published by the Century imprint of Random House in Britain, saw its biggest sales at Urban Outfitters and independent bookstores.

You can now find books in butcher shops, furniture stores, clothing stores and delis. And, oh yeah, at Starbucks. The merchant gets some extra revenue and the ambience enhancement that a properly-selected book provides. The publisher gets a showcase with limited or no competition.

Would you like a historical novel with your chai latte?

(Photo courtesy of Peace News)
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