Pamphlets in bookshops

Many pamphlet publishers will know the feeling. You go to a bookshop with your latest work, which you’re sure readers will want to buy, and the bookshop person says, “Sorry, but we don’t stock pamphlets; they’re too awkward to display.” It’s happened many times to me. It’s because, with folded covers, there’s no spine to display the author and title, and the shop wants to stack your titles with the spine showing – they take up less space this way.

There are two ways for a shop to get round this. They can either put them in a carousel or a dumpbin (horrible word). Either way, they display the covers, but both take up space, and booksellers have sales targets measured in sales per unit of floor area. I love designing covers for Calder Wood Press pamphlets. I like them to reflect the content, obviously, but I want them to appeal to potential buyers, to make them want to pick them up. I know they increase sales, and I want to show them off.

I don’t know the answer to this, but if anyone can suggest one I’d love to hear it.


About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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4 Responses to Pamphlets in bookshops

  1. Gordon Mason says:

    How many pamphlets can stand (‘spine’ outwards) behind a pamphlet cover facing outwards?

    Would suit bookseller and publisher?

  2. Jim Murdoch says:

    Or they could leave them at the pay point. The supermarkets have been doing it for years. Impulse buying must rake in thousands upon thousands of pounds. I can only think of one bookshop (a second-hand bookshop on Great Western Road) that sells new poetry pamphlets other than the CCA. They have a little box on the desk where you pay where you can flick through them. Simple. Don’t know how effective it is but at least they’re making an effort.

  3. sunnydunny says:

    Jim: I must get my new distributor to check out the CCA bookshop.

    Gordon: If you reckon on a pamphlet’s cover width being 15cm, you could probably shelve ~35 copies spine-out behind it. But the booksellers won’t take more than 5 or 6 copies of any one pamphlet, so that wouldn’t work.

  4. Tim Love says:

    Cambridge’s Amnesty International bookshop has a drawer of pamphlets – see the picture on my blog. It’s not ideal, though I’ve bought several pamphlets from there – ex-review copies, etc.

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