By October 18, 2006 0 Comments Read More →

The Interpretation of Disappointing Sales

In Monday’s Wall Street Journal, Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg had an interesting article examining why Jed Rubenfeld’s The Interpretation of Murder only hit #18 on the New York Times extended bestseller list. As Caleb Carr sagely notes, “you can’t schedule cosmic events.”

Trachtenberg also discusses Barnes & Noble’s “Barnes & Noble Recommends” program, which provided a huge boost to Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale:

The program, which launched Sept. 12, focuses all the retailer’s employees on a single title. It includes in-store displays, promotions online and direct emails to customers. “It’s the first time we put everything, including 40,000 booksellers who hand sell books, behind one title,” says Steve Riggio, the chain’s CEO. With that big push, the book hit No. 1 at the chain the first day it went on sale.

I hope Mr. Riggio appreciated the irony of his words when he saw them in print. Ordering all of your employees to push a single book is not “hand selling.”

Personally, I miss the midlist.

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About the Author:

Keir Graff is the editor of Booklist Online and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix.

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