Penguin has expanded the number of Barnes & Noble outlets in which it operates the Best of Penguin displays. Measuring about 200 sq. ft. and featuring 150 titles, the first BOP sections were opened in 10 B&N’s last September and this fall Penguin added another 25 stores. “We felt very comfortable in rolling out the displays to mores stores,” said B&N’s Patricia Bostelman.
Although neither B&N nor Penguin would discuss sales, Penguin president of hardcover sales Dick Heffernan said the stores with display saw “a nice lift” in sales, noting that the sections didn’t cannibalize sales of Penguin titles from the rest of the store. Bostelman observed that B&N makes decision to expand various programs “based on their success.”
Bostelman said B&N agreed to the BOP test because it is always looking for ways to better merchandise books. It picked the stores for the test based on outlets that had customers that showed an “affinity” for Penguin books as well as the layout of the store. B&N wanted to make sure that stores have the room so that the BOP displays can provide “a destination area.” Bostelman wouldn’t rule out establishing similar displays for other publishers, but observed that Penguin “set a high bar.” The company is one of only a few publishers that not only has worldwide name recognition but whose appeal “cuts across all age groups,” Bostelman told PW.The BOP displays are comprised of a tower and tables and include children’s books; “What the World is Reading” titles divided into hardcover and paperback; Penguin Classics; and “Gifts for Book Lovers,” which includes Penguin merchandise. The displays are stocked and maintained by Penguin sales reps who change new titles every few weeks and refresh the backlist every couple of months, Heffernan said.
For its part, Penguin is hoping to expand BOP to other bookstores. Heffernan said Penguin is talking to Books-A-Million about testing BOP displays in some of its outlets. A smaller display is part of the offering Penguin is making to independent booksellers as part of discussions the publisher is having with indies about different ways to sell its titles.