The Magic of Hyper-Links

For some reason I missed this story when it was originally published in The Wall Street Journal:

“Borders Tries About-Face on Shelves” – by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg

I am always on the look-out for stories on In-store merchandising, book publishing and bookstores. But I missed this one.

However, I stumbled across it via a series of hyper-links:

  1. A post on Seth Godin’s Blog – “Do you have” vs. “Do you want” which referenced…
  2. A post on the Brand Autopsy Blog – “Borders Reducing Its Borders” which was commentary on the original WSJ story about Borders Bookstores’ decision to:
    1. Place more of their books “face-out” on their shelves vs. the traditional “spine-out” style (common in libraries)
    2. This means cutting back on the number of individual titles stocked in each store by @ 10% (9,350 titles)
    3. Because when this new merchandising strategy was tested in a prototype Borders Bookstores, sales of the individual titles placed “face-out” increased by 9%

For anyone who has a life outside of book publishing, book selling and libraries this may seem like a “no-brain-er.”

“Some think the move is overdue. Unlike modern supermarkets, booksellers haven’t done enough to make books look attractive on the shelves, says John Deighton, editor of the Journal of Consumer Research.

“Breakfast cereals are not stocked end-of-box out,” he says. “You want to your product to be as enticing as possible. It’s a little bizarre that it’s taken booksellers this long to realize that the point of self-service is to make the product as tempting as possible.”

“To be as enticing as possible…” As in to pick up the book, look inside and decide to purchase it!

I was browsing in a Barnes & Noble Bookstore the other day. I was not there specifically to make a purchase. Just browsing. Perhaps something would catch my eye. Something usually does.

Yes, I saw a “face-out” display of Patrick Lencioni’s popular business books (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, etc.) This reminded me that he had just released a new book in the series. I couldn’t remember the name of the book and I was disappointed that it wasn’t on display.

“It’s probably sold out,” I thought. Undaunted, I went on a search for it in the business books section. More frustration – all of the books were placed “spine-out” on the shelves. And I was starting to get a headache from reading the titles while hunched over at a 90 degree angle! Madness! This is insane.

Of course, there was not a clerk in sight on the floor to offer me assistance. Actually, a Chiropractor could do a brisk business attending to bookstore customers!

Still determined to find the book, I finally realized the system that the store used to “display” their books – Alphabetical by Author’s last name. Great! I at least knew the author (What if I didn’t?) and located the book (“The Three Signs of a Miserable Job“) – Prophetic, perhaps, if you work in a bookstore!

At home, I file my books by category and “spine out” to save space. Fine. I am familiar with the books that I already own. But this just does not work in a bookstore where I am looking to purchase something that I do not yet own!

Entice me! Seduce me! Surprise me! Make it impossible for me to resist making a purchase!

I came into your store with the intention of making a purchase – despite my statement that I was “just browsing.”

If I want to read, I can go to a library. Or stay at home and read one of my many un-read (as of now) books!

You are in business to sell books. Make it easier for me to purchase what you have to offer!

Don’t try to compete with by stocking every book ever published. I am happy to place a special order for a specific book – provided that you make it easy for me to do so.

As Seth Godin’s (short) article points out, this answers the question, “Do you have?”

Creative in-store merchandising – which requires continuous re-merchandising – will ask the question, “Do you want?”

If your in-store merchandising creates enough interest and desire my answer will be, “yes!”

And that’s what you want to hear – don’t you?



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