Statistics from National
By Cheryl Bolen
Industry professionals at this year’s PAN workshops during the
national RWA convention presented a lot of welcome news for authors in a
lot of genres.
The really good news is the overall growth of sales. Mass market
sales rose 4 percent last year at Levy’s Home Entertainment, which
supplies 1,800 retail outlets such as drug and grocery stores as well as
Targets, K-Marts, and 20 percent of the Wal-Marts (Anderson’s supplies
the other 80 percent — mostly in the western states). The
Books-A-Million chain of 212 stores reported double-digit increases of
Such success translates to a healthier respect of the romance
genre at retailers across the country. Sue Grimshaw, romance buyer for
the 1,000 plus stores in the Borders Group which includes Waldenbooks,
said the new management at Borders recognizes the importance of the
romance market and shares her enthusiasm for promoting the genre and
boosting its sales.
Category authors will be happy to know the Books-A-Million stores
have experienced a double-digit increase in category sales during the
past year, according to Margaret Terwey, who buys all fiction for BAM.
Category books are also now being replenished at those stores.
Historical authors can put their mourning gloves in mothballs. The
historical romance market is healthy. At BAM, historical sales are
registering a single-digit increase. At Barnes & Noble, historical sales
are solid, said Tommy Dreiling, who buys all romance titles for the
chain (with the exception of books for BN.com). Grimshaw said
historicals (her personal favorite genre) "could be seeing growth" at
Borders and Waldenbooks. She added that the historical bestsellers (the
likes of Mary Balogh, Julia Quinn and Eloisa James) are doing "very
well." Levy’s distributors said they are seeing "a significant growth in
Erotica, despite not being carried by Levy, is performing
exceptionally well. Erotica accounts for the most significant growth at
BAM — even though BAM does not shelve the books face out and does not
order any books with graphic covers. The industry professionals said
erotica is the only romance category that is selling well in trade.
Young adult, too, is selling well. At BAM, YA is experiencing
double-digit growth in sales. Dreiling said Barnes and Noble has
physically separated YA from juvenile books at all its stores, and that
has increased sales.
More good news is that Borders/Waldens has not cut back on initial
book orders; however, the other chains’ and Levy representatives said
their front orders are a bit down, with more emphasis on replenishment.
Only the paranormal authors received slightly disappointing news
at the PAN workshops in Dallas. The professional booksellers said
overall paranormal sales are coming down while the genre’s reigning
queens — Christine Feehan and Sherrilyn Kenyon – are selling very well.
Across the board, all the corporate book buyers said they pride
themselves on their enthusiasm for debut authors. Terwey, an avid
reader, said she doesn’t even read the bestsellers because she knows
their record and expectations. "I’m always looking for that debut author
I can turn into a baestseller."
The other corporate buyers agreed.
This article was first published in PASIC Basics, Summer 2007.