Because they are capable of moving tens of thousands of copies of books a week, the big-box stores have shaken up the publishing industry. Pennie Clark Ianniciello buys books for Costco and is such an important player in book publishing that the Wall Street Journal ran a front-page feature story on her power and influence. Publishers seek outand followher advice on cover designs and marketing plans. Her monthly Pennies Pick, which is sent out to millions of Costco customers, is almost as good as a recommendation from Oprah Winfrey.
The warehouse clubs and discounterswhich sell primarily popular fiction, cookbooks, how-to books, and childrens bookstreat the printed word just as they would toilet paper or AAA batteries. They buy a relatively few titlestwo hundred compared with Barnes & Nobles two hundred thousandand keep them on the shelves for about six weeks, then send them back to the publisher if the books arent moving.
Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business School Press. Excerpt from Category Killers: The Retail Revolution and its Impact on Consumer Culture by Robert Spector. Copyright 2005 by Robert Spector. All rights reserved.