Sell Books Through Gift Shops at Zoos and Parks
There are similarities between selling books through gift shops at museums and through gift shops at zoos, aquariums and parks. They all try to promote education in their stores to extend the experience of their guests. And since the books are usually sold on a non-returnable basis with discounts averaging 55 percent, you can sell them profitably, too.
Decision criteria for books
The principal mission of these venues is education, and buyers look for quality of production and content. The information in a new title is expected to be precise, and it may be subjected to a formal review process. Your submission to the buying authority should include a statement that facts and dates have been checked for accuracy.
In general, book buyers prefer hardcover books. The guests are generally looking for a book that their children will be able to enjoy and keep as a memento of their visit to the venue. The size of the book is not as critical as other decision criteria. Quality and relevant content are vital, as is the title of the book. The cover design is particularly important for children's books, and price in this segment is not a critical issue.
You can learn more about this segment from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (http://www.aza.org). It was founded in 1924 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to animal care, wildlife conservation, education and science.
Similarly, the National Recreation and Park Association (http://www.nrpa.org) acts to advance parks, recreation and environmental conservation efforts. Its online bookstore has titles ranging from targeted publications to scholarly texts. Find contact information for bookstores at many national parks at http://data2.itc.nps.gov/hafe/bookshop/index.cfm. There are additional marketing opportunities at NRPA for the interested publisher:
• Exhibit, speaking and sponsorship opportunities at the annual NRPA Congress & Exposition, as well as a number of regional events catering to park and recreation professionals.
• Advertising in Parks & Recreation magazine, the official publication of the National Recreation and Park Association. More than 19,000 park and recreation professionals, citizen advocates and affiliates read it. Barter ad space for writing articles for the magazine.
• Mailing Lists. The NRPA membership lists, and various other lists maintained at NRPA headquarters, are available for rental.
How to sell to these stores
Luckily, you do not have to contact each of the zoo or park gift shops individually. You do not have to sell directly, nor must you go through a distributor or wholesaler. How can that be?
You reach these buyers through third-party retailers that acquire books and other cultural material for the gift shops. In essence, they buy for the venues instead of selling to them. Event Network operates gift shops at zoos, museums, aquariums, science centers and botanical gardens, and Eastern National serves the national park system.
1. Event Network acts as an institution's retail partner, maintaining the inventory at each store. When you contact the book buyer, point out the venue for which your books are most suitable, and the reasons why they would be a good fit for the venue.
When you send your package to the book buyer at Event Network, include a copy of the book and a sell sheet with the author's name, including his or her credentials as an expert source of the book's content. Your cover letter should include a brief description of why the title is relevant. Why is your book different from and better than what the institution has on the shelves of the gift store now? The answers to these questions presuppose that you have conducted some basic research to prepare for your product submission.
Your submission package should also include data about the book. What is its size and how many books are in a case? What is the number of pages? Are there photographs? If so, are they four-color? How is it bound? What is the ISBN? What is its suggested retail price? Quantity discounts? But most importantly, why would the guests be interested in what the author has to say?
Submit your proposal to Event Network, Purchasing Department, 1010 Turquoise St., Suite 325, San Diego, CA 92109; phone 858-488-7507, fax 858-488-7254, email@example.com, http://www.eventnetwork.com
2. Eastern National is the primary operator of federal historic sites and National Parks shops in the United States. It is an educational institution that functions as a part of the educational arm of the National Park Service. Eastern National is a not-for-profit organization, and net proceeds from sales from their bookstores are donated to the National Park Service.
Eastern National currently operates over 245 bookstores at more than 150 national parks and other public trusts in 30 states from Maine to the Caribbean. Send books for consideration to Purchasing Manager, 470 Maryland Dr., Suite 1, Ft. Washington, PA 19034, 215-283-6900 ext. 129; firstname.lastname@example.org. They have a bookstore on their website (http://www.easternnational.org) as well as access to all the stores they represent.
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."