What Would you Recommend?

I spent a good portion of the day on Friday finally, finally setting up a section of recommended reading.

Part of the goal with the store was to highlight things that it would seem should have a broad appeal but for whatever reason don't get the level of visibility they deserve. A big part of the solution is simply to give them more shelf space, but I wonder how much gets lost because we try to get so muc onto the shelves. Hence, the recommendations section.

The big problem with a section for recommendations is that we're already out of shelf space. Singles are selling very poorly thus far and I think a big reason is that they get so little space. Problem is, we're stocking so many trades and graphic novels that we don't have a lot more space to give them. Knowing that we needed to find more space in the store, though, I did a breakdown of titles and copies for each of our sections and discovered that our largest section, Adventure (which includes most of the superhero stuff plus a bunch more) could be consolidated pretty easily by cutting down on the number of titles that are faced out. By spining series with a trade dress like Ultimate Spider-man we were able to save space without sacrificing much in the way of visibility. Solution in hand, the next decisions were where to put this new section and what to do with it.

Because these decision were pretty closely linked it became a matter of deciding which element was a higher priority, giving more space to the singles or creating a recommendations section to highlight titles with sales potential. One factor that played heavily into the final decision was the request by a customer a few days for a recommendations section. We had spent a few minute talking about what we liked and he asked why there wasn't a recommendation section. He thought it would help since we carry a lot of stuff that may be unfamiliar to the general public. Still those black shelves for the singles are pretty small and were already getting full. So, we decided to sort of split the difference and incorporate both ideas into the section, plus an additional creator spotlight that I'd wanted to set up. We're using one of the tall bookshelves and devoting the top shelf to the creator spotlight, two shelves to recommended trades and the bottom three to recommended singles/series.

With that decision made we were left with deciding where to put this new section. It seems to make the mose sense initially to put it up front, but once I started looking into it a bit more, I discovered that many bookstores that have a section for staff recommendations put it more towards the back because it tends to be a section that certain customers seek out. There's even a store in Texas that moves it around so that customers will have to see all of the store in order to get to that section. We're not going that far (the store's too small to try that even if we wanted to) but the idea of putting it in the middle of the store felt right. It may still get shifted to another bookshelf, but for now we're happy with its placement.

As for the titles in that section, I decided to go for a balance between titles that would be nice introductions for customers who are fairly new to comics as well as titles that lifelong fans may have overlooked or forgotten as well as offering titles for every age. Basically I tried to make it a microcosm of the store itself. I'm so happy with the result that we're going to offer a small discount plus a money back guarantee on the recommended trades and graphic novels. We'll see if that works out or not.

This was probably a bit dry, so I'll try to spice things up next time.


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