Wednesday, June 15, 2022


Boring subject, but it's interesting to me.

We've always been pretty much a JIT (Just in Time Shipping) store when it come to books...and most other things.. At first it was because I could really only afford one SKU (stock keeping unit) at a time, then it was because of the limited space.

Over the last few years, I've assembled a bunch of books that I call "perennials." Books that sell again and again and again. 

Now I'm just two days away from getting restocks of those books from Ingram Distributors, but of course I don't order every day, so it's more like a week for some books. I get a better discount from Penguin Random House, but the books take longer to arrive--up to two weeks. So if I sell a perennial bestseller, I often don't have it in stock for anywhere from one week to three weeks. 

But my reasoning has always been that every "extra" copy of a book in stock is a different book I didn't order. I've always wanted to have as wide a selection as possible. I'm also less of a "go-to" store for new bestsellers and more of an "impulse" buy store. So the more good backlist titles I can carry, the better.

I've noticed that other bookstores will often order many multiples of some books. Ironically, it's probably for much the same reason as I order just one copy--they have limited space. These bookstore will stack books on tables, which means that five or six copies take up no more space than one copy. Since they can return unsold copies it isn't a huge risk.

I don't have tables, nor do I return books. The vast majority of my books are spine out on bookshelves. Not the best way to display books, but again--it gives me the ability to carry vastly more titles. Basically, every book that is face-out is taking the same space that I can stock 5 or 6 books spine out.

I made an adjustment over the last few years of trying to have two copies of some perennials, but it's not consistent.

Anyway, when I put in my new book displays in the windows, suddenly I had room to show off 40 or 50 of my best books. I decided to make sure I had a couple copies of each of these perennials, one in the window and one out for sale, with the idea that I would grab the copy from the window to replace any that I sold.

Unexpectedly, these perennials suddenly started selling faster. I'm still having to wait a week to three weeks for replacements, which is what happens if you sell one copy of a perennial and then instantly sell the other copy. 

I probably wouldn't have known this if the window display hadn't caused me to order so many extra copies. 

Lesson learned: I will be ordering two or three or even four copies of these perennials and keep the Just In Time reordering for replacements. 

Even though my store is packed, there is always room for incremental improvements.

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