Tuesday, March 06, 2007

B&N killed the book review star

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Los Angeles Times is expected to end its stand-alone book review suppliment for lack of advertisers. (Yeah, I know. How weird is it that I'm linking to a WSJ article? Maybe it has to do with the fact that MSU's former president Peter McPherson is taking over as Chairman of the Board at Dow Jones. . . Nah.)

Why is book advertising down? According to Tom Perry, associate publisher of Bertelsmann AG's Random House Publishing Group, it's the chain bookstores, where publishers pay the store for prominent display placement of their titles.

"You want to see your books in prominent places," says Perry. "Such co-op advertising is where marketing dollars are going that might otherwise have been spent on advertising." According to the WSJ, "one publisher says that chain bookstores can charge $1 or more per book to stack titles in desirable locations, such as on a table at the entrance or in a display featuring new nonfiction titles."


PoN said...

How did Pete get to be such a baller?

Gavin said...

Pete has always been a baller. Have you ever taken a look at the man's resume? World Bank, hangs with Cheney and Condoleeza Rice, part of Bremer's team in Iraq in 2003.

The "M" in M. Peter McPherson stands for "the Man."

By the way, that resume is available here.

Tim said...

The shift in ad dollars and the dollars regained for publishers by prominent table placement both suggest a difference in the way people read/buy books. Fewer people now seem to read about books and then go out and buy them. We also don't ask experts, or even people selling us the books, what they would recommend. Instead, they wander into bookstores already planning on buying something, then look around, see something prominently displayed that looks good to them, and say, "I'll take that."

The shopping model is the restaurant: the front table are the specials; the greeting cards, blank books, and photo albums are the desserts. This is also the way we increasingly shop in grocery stores. But as the stores get bigger, and the sellers get less knowledgable, bookstores feel more like a big supermarket -- you wander through the aisles, alone with other people, either looking for something or nothing, either trying to get in and out of there as soon as possible, or half-hoping just to stay there as long as you can, not because it's so wonderful, but because you have no other place that you wish to go.