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September 13, 2015

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September 13, 2015

Good Grief!

September 13, 2015

Take a close look at the labels on each of these three shelves at the Corpus Christi Barnes and Noble:

  • Sexuality, LGBT, Family & Friends, Death/Grieving
  • Death and Grieving, Self Score Tests
  • Success

Death and Grieving is sandwiched between Sex and Success. Does anyone think that a widow is going to get down on the floor to look for a book on death and grieving? How would she ever find the shelf? It’s not even alphabetized by subject. Terrible marketing. What is Barnes and Noble thinking?

A young man was perusing the shelves when I stopped by to check out Death and Grieving. (I knew the shelf existed somewhere in the upper right-hand corner of the store, so I was searching for it.) He turned his back to me while he scaned the pages in the book he had picked up. I tried to get closer to Death and Grieving without getting on my hands and knees. I certainly did not want him—or anyone else—to think I was stooping to check out Sex. I am not sure which of us was more ill at ease.

One essential part of a book proposal is an analysis of your book’s competition. Agents and editors want to know where the book will go on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. When I researched Books in Print and the Amazon best-seller lists, I confirmed my suspicions—there are few books out there for widows (all 11 million of us) and even fewer recently published ones that have sold well.

No wonder books on grief aren’t selling. No one can find them between Sex and Success.

And just possibly Barnes and Noble sales would improve (WSJ reported here on the bookseller’s declining sales last week) if they arranged and displayed books in some sort of logical fashion for real people.

5 comments

  1. Lois, in a way, “Healing After Loss” proves my point. It was published in 1994 (no recent editions), yet remains the Amazon #1 bestseller in “Love and Loss”; #2, “Devotionals; and #4, “Death and Grief.” The author, Martha Whitmore Hickman, died in January at the age of 90. It’s hard for me to believe that none of the new books are any good. With self-publishing and ebooks, more and more books are being written, fewer are being sold. And the good ones get lost in the crowd, unless there’s a publisher who really believes in the book.

  2. Ha! If you want a good display in B&N, my agent has said that the publisher has to pay for it!
    P.S. We never know where our books will appear. A student once texted me a photo. He lived in NYC and was walking across Washington Square Park one morning and saw a homeless person still asleep on a park bench. As he neared the bench, he saw that the homeless person was using one of my books to cover his face from the morning sun!

    1. I can believe it. On the other hand, books can live on forever. We did Fiesta cookbook in 1978 and over the next 18 years, 55,000 copies were printed. Somehow, it’s still available on Amazon.

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