How to Sell Books in the Multi-Billion Dollar Gift Shop Market
The National Park Service turned 100 on August 25, 2016. Given this historic milestone, it seems appropriate to talk about how publishers can sell books through gift shops at parks and historic sites. Gift shops offer a significant opportunity to publishers, particularly those that create educational content about local history. Millions of consumers visit national parks and historic sites each year, and many are looking for a souvenir to take home. That souvenir could be your book!
There are two ways to sell to buyers at gift shops. One is to work through independent sales representatives, many of which publishers can find at greatrep.com. This site provides several entry points. Contact salespeople directly under “Lines Wanted,” or list your book in the “Reps Wanted” section. There is also a list of upcoming wholesale trade gift shows at which you can exhibit or network.
The second way to sell at gift shops is through third-party operators. They work in partnership with the national parks and historic sites to ensure that their guests have a meaningful experience and can extend that experience through products in their stores.
The Third-Party Operators Publishers Need to Know
Event Network manages stores on behalf of many cultural attractions at iconic landmarks and historic sites such as Gettysburg National Military Park and The Alamo. Started in 1998, Event Network is now the leading operator of cultural attraction stores worldwide.
Eastern National was founded in 1947 to serve the national park system. It operates more than 150 units of the National Park Service in the Eastern United States, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.
Eastern National is also an independent publisher producing educational products for the National Park Service. “Our publications are different from those developed by traditional publishers because Eastern National collaborates directly with the parks to produce educational material to fit specific needs within the park,” says Erin Sweeney, inventory replenishment manager at Eastern National.
The Western National Parks Association is the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service and its 67 national parks in the western United States. WNPA ensures that all products, services, and programs enrich the visitor experience.
How to Get Your Book Selected
The core purpose of all three of these entities is identical. Laura O’Neal, a book buyer at Event Network summarizes their objective: “Our goal is to create an extension of the guest experience at each of our partnerships. We source books that provide educational value and that offer an opportunity for visitors to explore and learn more about the different concepts and exhibits that they have just experienced. We also look to represent local authors and titles that celebrate the particular region or area in which the venue is located.”
They usually buy books on a non-returnable basis with discounts ranging from 50% to 70% off list price. Sweeney says, “The price should be under $20,” and books priced at approximately $10 to $15 sell best.
A major decision criterion of buyers is the book’s fit with the store’s image and customer base. In addition, books selected are generally site specific. According to Sweeney, “Few books are relevant to all our locations.” When publishers send a book to Eastern National, Sweeney recommends that publishers “include a a sell sheet describing the data I need to make a decision.” Visit the stores and get a good sense of what they are about, and then submit your book with a description of how your content fits with the retailer’s mission and visitors.
Billions of dollars are spent in gift shops every year, and you can get your share of this market. Do your homework and submit a professional package that demonstrates how your content is different, better, and perfectly suited to their stores and guests.
Brian Jud is an author, book-marketing consultant, seminar leader, television host and president of Premium Book Company, which sells books to non-bookstore buyers on a non-returnable, commission-only basis and conducts on-site training for publishers' sales forces.
Brian is the author of "How to Make Real Money Selling Books (Without Worrying About Returns)," a do-it-yourself guide to selling books to non-bookstore buyers in large quantities, with no returns. He has written many articles about book publishing and marketing, is the author of the eight e-booklets with "Proven Tips for Publishing Success," and creator of the series of "Book Marketing Wizards." He is also the editor of the bi-weekly newsletter, "Book Marketing Matters."
Brian is the host of the television series "The Book Authority" and has aired over 650 shows. In addition, he is the author, narrator and producer of the media-training video program "You're On The Air."