Friday, April 8, 2016

Book Market Resembles Food Trucks

Americans like everything mobile – from smart phones to vending machines.  Many things are available 24/7 online and now the physical world is catching up.  Books are becoming available in more locations than in the recent past, which is great news for an industry that showed its first annual revenue increase in eight years.

Sales at bookstores rose 2.5% in 2015 over the prior year – the first increase since 2007, according to the Census Bureau.

Part of that success comes from more stores being open.  The American Booksellers Association said there were 1,712 member stores in 2,227 locations operating by the end of last year.  This represents a big jump form 2009’s headcount of 1,401 stores in 1,651 locations.

Some stores are even going mobile, applying a food-truck approach to business.

Nashville’s newest bookstore is an old van, selling books where people congregate.  It’s a different kind of delivery service and it is a great way to advertise for a brick and mortar location.  Now you can buy books the way kids get ice cream – from a truck.

It actually makes sense.  What would work even better is the espresso-type book printing machines that a handful of stores have.  They are used to print a print-on-demand book in eight to twelve minutes.

Of course trucks and vans are not easy to browse, nor can they hold many titles or many copies of a title.  Maybe a themed truck would do better.  Imagine a sports book truck parked outside an arena or sports field.  How about a chick-lit mobile situated outside a school or popular daytime restaurant for stay-at-home moms?  Maybe a stash of business books can be parked by a busy intersection of the business district or cookbooks can be sold by restaurant row.

The best locations to sell books should be places where readers already gather -- such as by a library, school, or newsstand.  These mobile book dealers are especially needed for areas underserved by bookstores.  There are 6 million square miles in the United States.  I want bookstores on water, in the mountains and forests, and by the beaches.

Book mobiles can be hard to maintain.  For one, they have lots of inventory, so security at night could be an issue.  For another, staffing could be an issue.  Who wants to work out of a truck all day?  Can you imagine if a mobile truck got a ticket for going too fast?  It would say “speed reading.”  Okay, I won’t quit my day job.

People read books while in motion all of the time – planes, trains, automobiles – so why not sell them that way?  Maybe they should have bookmobiles featuring books about modes of transportation. Books are on the move!

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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