Getting Picked Up by the Chains

September 1998
by Robin Bartlett

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I recently spoke with representatives from Barnes & Noble/B. Dalton and Borders/Waldenbooks about the steps and procedures PMA members should follow to have their books considered for purchase. I thought this information might make a good PMA Newsletter article and I had most of the research at finger-tip and ready to go.

As I started to write the article, the thought crept into my head that perhaps these simple, step-by-step procedures for “Getting Picked Up by the Chains” were not quite as simple as I was being lead to believe. So I decided to get some “real feedback” by talking with PMA members about their experience in selling books to the major chains in the US.

Facts about Chain Stores

There are three major chain store operations in the US: Barnes & Noble (Superstores) and its subsidiary B. Dalton (mall stores), Borders (Superstores) and its subsidiary Waldenbooks (mall stores), and Books-A-Million. As most of us know, these chains now control more than 65% of the book sales in America. And with the recent declarations of Chapter 11 by Crown and Lauriat’s, this percentage may rise another 8 to 10 points over the next several months. This means that a very few number of buyers at three locations (New York, Ann Arbor, and Birmingham) will control your access to the majority of retail bookstore sales in the US. So unless you are represented by a distributor (and sometimes even if you are) who has a highly competent national account staff to hand-hold the…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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