Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What's Selling at B&N? (or An Internista Explains It All)

Tip of the Day: If your gas tank isn't quite drained but the sun is shining, fill your tank. You'll regret it when you're running on fumes and there's a -20 degree wind chill a few days later.

I have a fantastic intern at the library. She's enthusiastic, energetic, smart, fun, responsible -- and a Barnes & Noble bookseller. In addition to her regular B&N duties, she conducts teen book talks at the store and also does them for me at the library. How cool is that? She's a regular Internista!

Today she and I had a discussion about what books are selling at her B&N during "these hard economic times." Here's some of what she's observed in the YA realm:

1. Thanks to Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight saga, YA is still selling! Her books pull customers into the YA section and they sometimes leave with additional novels.
2. Since many customers are attracted to Stephenie Meyer's books, when they finish the series they want Twilight saga read alikes. So dark, vampire, zombie, faerie, etc novels are selling better than light teen high school tales.
3. But some high school tales ARE selling -- the ones that have a new twist like our own Tina's ESPRESSOLOGIST and Lisa's FAR FROM YOU (the former has the unique twist of matchmaking based on coffee drinks, the latter has the verse format). Fresh spins on these stories are important for sales right now.
4. That said, the dark tales also need to have fresh spins. Otherwise the vampire books are competing with each other, for example, and B&N will be monitoring the sales of these other books. Here's a book that is unique, dark, and is selling well:

5. Other books that are doing well are the Gossip Girls and The Clique. As much as this might pain some to hear, books like this are good for the publishing companies. They make the pubs money so that they can afford to buy stand alone titles from new authors. So be happy that these are still selling!

Keep in mind that this too shall pass. People will once again have money to spend on books and then they WILL take chances on new, sweet stories. So write what your heart and head want you to write. Perfect your craft. Read lots. Don't be afraid to submit. Economic times will turn around and perhaps all of our books will sell and be well-stocked at the book superstores.

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing


DeenaML said...

To comment on my own post -- she also said sweet MIDDLE GRADES are still selling! So not to stop yourself from writing the story you need to write, but if you have a sweet story and can make the character MG age instead of YA, right now you might have a better shot at seeing it on the shelf at B&N. :)

DeenaML said...

Another comment so I get follow-ups. :)

Jessica Burkhart (Jess Ashley) said...

Very glad to hear sweet MGs are selling. ;)

Anonymous said...

RE: Sweet MGS are selling.
Oh, sigh. I hope she's right.
-Nancy Viau

Emily Marshall said...

Yep, that is nice to hear sweet MGs are selling! And I still see a ton of sweet stuff go out at the library. But that's mostly because we have a ton of girls in the tween age that read like crazy right now that frequent our library.

So, yeah, I say stick to what you want to write!

Lisa Schroeder said...

Love the insiders look at what's happening in the YA section these days. Thanks for sharing, Deena! Ask her more questions - it can be a regular feature. :)

I keep thinking there has to be a point where the market becomes saturated with the Twilight-like books. But maybe not? Someday there will be "the next big thing." It's going to be very interesting to see what that is!

Anonymous said...

I still think that there are a ton of teen readers out there who'd love sweeter books...but since there aren't many being published, they aren't getting the chance to show that. (I can hope, right?)

DeenaML said...

Jessica and Nancy -- yes, your genres are doing well, according to the Internista! (Hopefully that bodes well for my light tween book as welll!)

Em -- we have tons of tweens at our lib, too, but many are starting to request TWLIGHT....

Lisa -- good idea about having other questions answered by the Internista! She's worked in bookstores for 5 years now (Borders before B&N) and knows her stuff!

Robin -- the Internista mentioned that there are some sweet YAs now that do make it to her store...and some just sit. But not all! If a teen DOES want a sweeter, contemp YA, she says they pick up Sarah Dessen or Meg Cabot. So there is a desire for some non-paranormal non-dark stuff. It's just right now a HARDER sell with teens in B&N.

But that doesn't mean not to write the book you need to write! Even if a book doesn't sell today, it could sell soon and the markets WILL change!

Emily Marshall said...

I'm interested to see what the next big-thing is too Lisa. I'm curious when the Twilight-stuff will get saturated. But we still have tons of people wanting to come in and read twilight-like books. I'm kind of getting sick of it myself, but apparently they aren't over it yet.

Kristina Springer said...

Great post Deena!