Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Borders Cutting Back on Stock – Going Face Out for Books

There is a fascinating article available for free on the Wall Street Journal (it was pay yesterday) about changes at Borders’ stores. Borders believes it can sell more books if they are face out on the shelves than spined and therefore is cutting back on stock. It will have fewer books in store, but give more visible placement to those in stock.

I don’t know quite what to think of it. On the one hand, I think that there are too many books getting published and would love to see fewer books with greater quality however, who decides what books aren’t getting sold? The bookstores? The publishers? The sales dept?

I have heard that the reduction of stock by the second largest retail chain in the US (Borders, of course) is going to adversely affect some authors because newer and midlist authors who don’t get the face out opportunity will have less and less shelf time and therefore less time to make a name for themselves.

With the rising sales of Amazon, though, perhaps midlist and newcomers will find salvation online.

Thanks to emails from Jill F and Tina.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Angela James
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 13:31:29

    I saw this yesterday and as a publisher, find it a little disheartening but certainly can’t fault Borders for trying to find something that will get readers to buy more books, especially in this economy.

    On the one hand, I think that there are too many books getting published and would love to see fewer books with greater quality however, who decides what books aren't getting sold? The bookstores? The publishers? The sales dept?

    The person (buyers) in charge of ordering for the bookstore(s). The lower orders to prepare for this actually started happening a few months ago and I think that small press publishing is going to have to do it better–cover art, availability, keeping in good standing with Borders/Ingrams–to keep getting shelf space. That’s my gut feel from what I’m seeing/hearing from the sales team. Borders has always been very small press friendly and I hope they can continue that.

  2. Karen Scott
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 19:44:28

    This has been happening in my local Borders for ages. Once upon a time, there used to be about five shelves full of romance books. Now there are three shelves full of romance books, and the others only have about five books in each faced out, along with mugs/cups, DVDs etc. I was most annoyed.

  3. Seressia
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 21:12:12

    This probably means that black romance will get squeezed out in favor of all the street and gangster and baby-daddy books which already dominate the space. Sigh.

  4. Phyl
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 21:21:32

    According to Shelf Awareness:

    the change will be apparent in most Borders stores within six weeks and be most noticeable in categories like children’s, food, cooking, travel, art and photography but less so in fiction

    I wonder if this means the cutback in the number of titles will be more noticible in the sections mentioned in the article and not affect fiction so much.

  5. francois
    Mar 14, 2008 @ 08:13:28

    The selection in my local Borders doesn’t compare to Amazon anyway, and its one of the biggest in the UK! I only shop in “real” bookshops in an emergency, or to sample the text where there isn’t a sample available online. They hardly ever have what I want anymore.

  6. Christine
    Mar 16, 2008 @ 17:58:18

    Of course. Absolutely figures. I get into the game and they change the farking rules.


  7. Pre-Orders (or, the day your favorite author isn’t on the shelf…) | Romancing Trashy Novels
    Apr 21, 2009 @ 01:06:19

    […] departure from typical bookselling, they decided to change the “face” of their stores by having large chunks of books appear cover out. Of course, you can fit 3-4 spine titles in the space of a single front cover on the shelf, which […]

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