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Changes Afoot to Wal-Mart’s Shelving of Books?

Word came down a few weeks ago that the brick and mortar Wal-mart stores were reducing the number of mid list authors it was going to carry. According to Black Romance Reader, that is not the only negative book shelving change that is going on. BRR reported that the following:

I'd already known about Wal-Mart's change in policy back in April and witnessed it a month or so ago when they'd chucked a lot of the African-American section to focus on the best-selling authors, but now, the section has completely changed. The entire African-American section is gone, replaced with books in Spanish. The romance section has been pushed to the back of the aisle and sf/f is now featured prominently beside the racks of mainstream best-sellers. YA & children's books are facing the outer aisle, and where the African-American section used to be, prior to the store moving it beside the magazines, is where the Christian fiction and non-fiction is hosted.

I’m going to head out to my Wal-mart to see what changes exist. I know that Wal-marts are stocked by two separate wholesalers: Levy Entertainment and Anderson Marketing. The book/magazine section is run entirely by these wholesalers, as as I understand it. Can anyone else report on the changes at their Wal-Marts?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

22 Comments

  1. Anne
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 09:23:23

    The asinine decision was announced in April that Wal-mart would only be carrying best sellers. So if you’re a midlist author and not a best seller, you’re fucked, regardless of skin color. Which, for me, means I’ll be buying elsewhere because I like to buy all my books on one place.

  2. Rosie
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 10:36:07

    My Wal Mart has been stocking pretty much only best sellers for close to a year. They sell them too because the section is always picked over. I haven’t seen any of the category romances for close to two years. There is however a significant part of the book section for religious reading material both fiction and non-fiction.

  3. Annice
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 11:23:59

    I don’t go to Wall Mart very often but am in Sam’s almost on a weekly basis and always check out the book section–is this the same?

  4. Jane
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 11:56:13

    No, I think Sam’s is stocked by a completely different company or has an internal buyer. I forget.

  5. Charlene Teglia
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 12:25:32

    I used to buy lots of midlist paperbacks at Walmart. Used to. Sigh. They still have lots of category, at least the one here does.

  6. Avaron Dale
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 15:48:54

    I’m in a small rural town… the book/magazine section here is one side of a single aisle. From the front of the store it goes like this: magazines, african-american romance/fiction; large section of christian fiction and bibles; category romances; best sellers; then on the endcap at the end of the aisle is children’s books and two shelves at the very bottom of the endcap for westerns and men’s fiction.

    That’s it… and that’s all the books sold in town, no indie bookstores or even a chain store here – and we’re the self-proclaimed “Literary Capital of Alabama”. I get all my print books via mail-order from Barnes & Noble or, to a lesser extent, Amazon. Most of my book budget goes for eBooks.

  7. Keishon
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 16:37:18

    My local Wal-Mart has made some changes. Section is smaller for romance, section now includes more YA or children’s books, still have AA novels, more blockbuster novels, then very little mid-list authors. I’m resolved to just sticking to my auto-buy list and ebooks :-)

  8. Sybil
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 18:03:26

    My wally world is changing the whole store. The book section is done and except for one thing is tres nice. The big change is the AA section they had – which had been huge – was gone.

    YA has been expanded. Sci Fi was next to it. Middle is Best Sellers, HC and general fiction and other stuff I think they don’t know what to do with. Other side facing out is Romance. Pretty much like it was before… harlequin still there… midlist still there… big names still there.

    There was a special YA display, two other displays one for inspy’s and one for ‘special crap’.

  9. DeeCee
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 20:31:49

    My WalMart has changed too. There used to be a 16 foot stretch of romance books, and 4 foot stretches of sf/horror and westerns. Bestsellers had a 16 foot stretch too.

    Now, Romance has 4 feet, sf/horror have 8 feet, westerns have 4 feet and bestsellers have 12 feet. They took out the audio books, and expanded the Harry Potter section (those are the only books in the YA section).

    The only thing that didn’t change was the 24 foot stretch of Mormon books.

    I’ve given up on them. I used to get all of my books from them, but 1) they stopped getting the books I liked 2) everything became religious based 3) Everything is Janet Evanovich or Nora Roberts now. I’d rather spend more money at Shopko or Target (which has a much better selection of midlist authors now) and get something I’ll like.

  10. Keishon
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 21:10:49

    I didn’t know Wal-mart had a 'special crap' section. You just learn something new everyday. Thanks!

  11. Robin
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 22:49:01

    Just one more reason why it’s a bad idea to let Wal Mart have such a strong role in defining and shaping the market.

  12. Nancy
    Jun 28, 2007 @ 05:28:38

    Wal-Mart is a business. They have to stock what sells. Maybe you should really be upset at what the majority of Americans choose to read.

  13. Ann Bruce
    Jun 28, 2007 @ 19:21:13

    In Canada, Wally World’s been pretty much like that already. But is the announced change for Wal-Mart US or Wal-Mart global? Does anyone know?

  14. Angela
    Jun 28, 2007 @ 22:35:53

    What I find telling is that the sf/f section has been expanded and moved to the forefront where the romance genre had been for so long. Could it be that the romance genre may be slipping from its premiere position within the industry?

  15. Jackie L.
    Jun 29, 2007 @ 10:06:09

    Sam’s Club is stocked internally, but they have gone to magazines and less space for books in both of the Sam’s I shop. They seldom carry the books that I want to buy anyway, so I ignore them. I will try a newbie when Sam’s has the books on sale for $5, but that’s about it.
    Angela–I think that Wal-Mart is trying to improve their image. But it’ll take more than showcasing SF!!!

  16. sybil
    Jun 29, 2007 @ 11:56:44

    I think it has more to do with the area… cuz my sci fi really isn’t bigger. Honestly it is prolly smaller. But the YA area is twice the size it was not sure if that is just a summer thing or not.

    And romance faces out in my wally world… so…

  17. dionne galace
    Jun 30, 2007 @ 19:06:04

    I didn't know Wal-mart had a 'special crap' section.

    heh!

  18. XandraG
    Jul 02, 2007 @ 07:18:38

    What I find telling is that the sf/f section has been expanded and moved to the forefront where the romance genre had been for so long. Could it be that the romance genre may be slipping from its premiere position within the industry?

    Probably not. SF/F includes movie, TV, and video game tie-ins–our Wally fills up with those, rather than “original” SF/F. They have the benefit of the branding of the other media to help sell them and catch casual browsers.

    There’s category and bestsellers in the romance, and some “helpful” soul makes sure to paper every romance niche with several dozen Chick-Tracts about once a month. There’s a huge Christian section, but given our area, it’s not surprising.

    Wal-Mart is not the first place I’d send somebody to buy a book…but unfortunately, the economics of the juggernaut often leave it as the only choice. So much for that “free market.”

  19. Marie-Nicole Ryan
    Jul 04, 2007 @ 07:42:13

    I buy the majority of my books from Amazon.com or directly from the publisher if it’s an ebook. My WalMart book buys are occasional impulse buys only.

  20. AnnieK
    Jul 04, 2007 @ 20:20:40

    I would like to know if Wal*Mart stocks the Christian Book section according to what part of the country you are in. I live in North Florida, a conservative area and there are tons of Christian books. Not only shelved with the other fiction but a lot of stand alone displays too.

    Is this standard for WalMart? I usually buy my books online or in other towns, near the beach which offer a more “secular” selection.

  21. Cobus van der Merwe
    Aug 21, 2007 @ 14:52:01

    I will be honored if you would look at my books on the web.

    Sincerely

    Cobus.

  22. Dirk
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 21:25:09

    Why is there an African American section to begin with in Wal-Mart. Where is the white American section, or the Jewish section. All they are doing is making things worse by segregating like that. Not only that, but they have put the Obama book in the other section. He is black is he not?

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