I stopped by a Barnes & Noble today and while I was there I noticed that my latest DIAGNOSIS MURDER book was spine-out in the mystery section. So what did I do? I turned them cover-out and took half of the books to the New Release section in the front of the store. It’s a silly, amateurish thing to do, but I couldn’t help myself. I knew my books were unlikely to sell in the depths of the mystery section with just their spines showing… and I just couldn’t leave them to die. I was delighted to get home and discover I’m not alone… novelist PJ Parrish does the same thing.
So I go into my local supermarket a while back to hunt and gather and
lo! there on the paperback rack is my book. As Martha says, it’s a good
thing. But alas, I am down on the bottom, wedged between the horoscope
books and a romance with a really creepy cover. I curbed my cart,
looked around to see that no one was watching, and promptly moved my
modest stack of five books up to the No. 5 slot, bumping James
Patterson down to No. 9.
Uh-oh… I hear sirens. I hear gasps.
You MOVED your own books? You took over another author’s legitimately
won bestseller space? How crude, desperate and socially unacceptable!
Yes, I did it. I confess. I moved my books. And before you get all self-righteous, I know that are hundreds, nay, thousands of authors out there who do the exact same thing. But they won’t fess up.
22 thoughts on “Movin On Up”
I thought we all did this. I wouldn’t dream of leaving a store unless I’d fixed my book on the shelf the way I want it to be shown. Or on the new releases table. Tell me the truth, is there any writer who doesn’t do this?
Hell, I’m just the fan of a writer (John Scalzi) and I tidy and turn out his books whenever I can. And I know from his blog comments that I’m hardly the only one.
Makes me wonder — what do Dan Brown, Steven King, and John Grisham do when they go into a bookstore?
Funny, I just came from PJ Parrish’s site and read the same story. To make room for all the writers that do this, I’m going to start moving Dan Brown and Stephen King’s books to the back of the story and place them on the shelf, only visible by their spine!
(I just hope my project makes it into the stores so I have something to move.)
Willaim Rabkin, to answer your question, they just smile a big fat money eating grin. (Then they buy a seven dollar cup of coffee.)
Here in the UK we call tactics like that book-turning thing ‘guerilla marketing’. The really dedicated authors sneak into bookstores at night and set up their own standees and dump bins…
Nah — moving your own books is not desperate. Moving a rival author’s books to a less advantageous spot. Now that’s desperate!
But fun I bet.
“what do Dan Brown, Steven King, and John Grisham do when they go into a bookstore?”
They don’t. They have people for that.
(Kidding, Dan, John and Steve. Kidding.)
I always put my paperbacks at eye level in grocery racks. There’s not much a guy with an end-of-the-alphabet name, like mine, can do about placement in alphabet-oriented bookstore shelving, where my books are at toe level at the far right. I should be entitled to a handicap license plate for having a name starting with W. Sometimes I wantonly pluck a novel of mine from its nether position and just leave it face-out at eye level. In the old days, western authors whose names were alphabetically ahead of L (for L’Amour) were the lucky ones and got into the shelves at eye level. Guys who came after L’Amour were out of luck. I’ve just written a mystery on spec, and the name on that one will be Axel Brand.
I have been known to do the same thing for a friend’s graphic novels.
I’ve been known to do this for authors I like. I’m glad I’m not alone.
The fascinating things one learns…
Curious…What would you say if someone saw you and objected?
It frightens me just a bit that Sandra Scoppetone does this, only because if I ever do get puiblished, my books will be right next to hers on the shelf.
Please, John … I have Lisa Scottoline to contend with. Besides, I promise to never cover up yours. Or anyone’s. That’s not playing fair…unless it’s Dan Brown.
Hey, maybe we should all make a pact to move each other’s books, all over the country. A kind of mini-cabal. I’m in Tucson, I can hit the two B & Ns and the two Borders, and whatever Frys, Safeways, and Walgreens I see. And you could do it for me! Like the Alfred Hitchcock movie, “Strangers on a Train”: “Criss-cross.”
Lee, I’m not even an author and I used to do this for my novelist friends in London all the time – without them knowing, that is. Shift their books about and all that. Very discreetly, of course. Once in Borders, I thought a friend’s book jacket looked dusty and I urgently fumbled about for a tissue and wiped it sparkly clean. Then I placed it with love and care, back on the shelf in broad daylight in front of everyone!
I’m more curious about what security must think LOL They’re probably thinking of possible theft only to see books get moved around.
Won’t well written books sell without any help from the author, whether they are face out or not? 🙂
Kiddign aside, I put my books face out, and I also put the books of friends face out.
When I do a signing at a store, I’m in there for several hours. I’ve faced out and moved to better locations dozens of books from my peers. I’ve also been known to sell friends’ books at signings. If someone doesn’t care for serial killer stuff, I’ll steer them to a friend. I’ll also recommend friends’ books to booksellers.
It’s not a competition. We’re all in the same boat.
I do the same thing in the video store with my movies… and in Sam French with my screenwriting book. The funny thing is, I’m sure that Bill & Lee come in right after me and spine-out my book and face their TV writing book.
It’s somewhat more difficult where I live outside of Palm Springs because there are two bookstores of note — 1 B&N and 1 Borders and so when I go in and move my books to the bestseller table, it’s not like they don’t know who is doing it, since my sense is that there aren’t legions of my fans hitting the stores of the greater Coachella Valley to face out my books. that’s not to say I don’t still do it, of course.
The new release displays at B&N stores are dictated by corporate, using diagrams. When managers don’t comply, they can get negative points when audited.
It’s great to have a book face out on a new release shelf or table. That’s how my book, Night Laws, was for the first 2-4 weeks at B&N, in the New Mystery section. Then they went to the regular shelves, just like all other books that pass through the display cycle.
To help keep my book face out, I hand out free ARCs to all B&N staff employees who want one when I am there for a signing. Someone always makes it a Staff Recommendation. Then they go face out again in that section of the store. The store also orders another 6-8 copies once the book becomes a Staff Recommendation.
Rock on, Lee! I used to work at Blockbuster, and I’d put my favorite movies out for everyone to see all of the time! And frankly, your books SHOULD be out there for everyone to see. It took me FOREVER to find them at Borders. So I will join your crusade, and move your books to the front of the stores. Viva la revolution.