Monday, November 22, 2010

Behind the Scenes: Laydowns

Mondays are always a busy day for me. I have my regular full-time job (ILL & Periodicals in an academic library) and then two hours later, I have my part-time job at the Bookstore. Savvy readers probably know that new titles are usually released on Tuesday. It sounds easy, right? Open box, put out the new books, also referred to as laydowns. Perhaps in theory, but, in reality, it's actually a rather time consuming process involving a multitude of staff members. I will spare you the nitty-gritty details of everything that happens and all the things that can/will/often do go wrong. However, after eight years of doing Merch and handling laydowns, there are some things I know that you probably should.

First off, not everything has an enforced street date. I know for a fact that some authors will be all 'My book's coming out on this date' and I'm like 'I just shelved it two hours ago.' Unless this is a Big Name, the book probably doesn't have an enforced street date and you may be able to find it in a store before you can buy it online. The best way to check is call us and ask us over the phone. If we tell you, 'Oh, we should have it on 11/22,' it's an enforced street date. If we're vague, 'Looks like it'll be released sometime this month, call back next week,' it doesn't have a street date and the 'call back' may mean it's in transit or buried in a pallet.  However, don't call with a list of twenty titles. That's just gonna piss us off. 

Secondly, Bookstore offers insane pre-order pricing online. We do not have the same pricing in store. However, if you order it online, you're not gonna get it that day unless you pay for expedited shipping. If you really, really want it right now, buy it in a bricks & mortar store. The best way to get your hands on a laydown title is the following: 

1. Call and find out when the laydown date is. Unless it's a James Patterson book, it'll usually come out on a Tuesday. Patterson has a monopoly on Mondays except when Oprah picks a new bookclub title. Those are usually Monday releases as well. Also, there are odd titles here and there that come out on Thursdays. For the most part, you're looking at a Tuesday date. 

2. Write down the laydown date. The night before that date, call to double-check it will, in fact, be available that day. The following has been known to happen: Warehouse screws up or there is a weather disaster and half of the laydowns do not arrive until Monday afternoon, the IPT (inventory processing team) guys give each other the flu and call out half the week, or the publisher decides to hold back the book.  Ask if a copy can be put aside for you tonight or if you should call back tomorrow. Generally, we will be happy to stick a hold slip in the book if you are nice.

3. Show up on the laydown date prior to closing and buy the book. If the title is really hot and we didn't get enough, you're not going to get any extra time. As soon as we close, that book is coming off the hold shelf and going on the floor.

With regards to in store pricing, there are usually no coupons valid in Bookstore for Tuesdays. I believe the reasoning is that if you want a book badly enough enough to pick it up on the day it comes out, you want it badly enough to pay full price. So don't call us on Monday night and tell us that you have a coupon that's expiring so you need to buy it that night. We can't sell it to you. You can whine and beg all you want, but you are not worth getting fired over. However, at Bookstore, Big Name hardcovers are usually discounted at least 30% off on Laydown day, more if you're a member of our discount program. Paperbacks are never discounted unless they're getting added to a pre-existing sale. Keep in mind, though, that you can't count on that Big Name hardcover still being 30% off next week. Unless it's a bestseller, titles are usually only up in the front of the store for about two weeks. Once it gets put in section, it will rarely, if ever, go on sale.

Now that Harry Potter and Twilight have ended, midnight openings are a rare thing. I personally enjoyed them because I enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow Harry Potter fans. However, they are a scheduling nightmare, never cost-effective, and usually involve super-human efforts in event planning.  In addition, we are usually not allowed to prep midnight release books until that day. A few weeks before Order of the Phoenix came out, it was delivered swathed in black plastic with a label of  'Hanukkah books.' In July. The truck driver was kinda insulted that they didn't think he wouldn't figure out what he was delivering across the area. In any case, those boxes sat there for weeks, taking up an enormous amount of space in our stockroom, and the anticipation nearly drove me out of my mind. Anyway, if you haven't seen signage plastered across the store announcing a midnight opening, don't bother asking.

Finally, be kind to your local booksellers on Monday night or Tuesday morning. They will either be staying very late or have been there since very early to get everything set up. This is especially true on Black Friday and 12/26. It's entirely possible they've been there since 5am if not earlier.

No comments:

Post a Comment