Pub Rants

Shelf Space Needed

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STATUS: I worked on a couple of submissions today so I spent a lot of time on the phone chatting with various editors.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WEREWOLVES OF LONDON by Warren Zevon

I had one interesting conversation with a children’s editor during my calls today. She mentioned that they had heard the news about a month ago that Barnes & Noble stores were not planning to expand their Young Adult section despite strong sales in that realm and a burgeoning need for shelf space to house the upcoming titles.

Consequently, they were being a little more cautious about what YA titles they took on because the main seller of YA is B&N and if the stores weren’t going to be accommodating titles for lack of shelf space, it could doom some releases.

But before we angst over the doom and gloom possibility of this forecast, just remember that lack of shelf space has been the issue in the adult trade world for years and yet, new writers debut, get noticed, and sell.

Still, it’s not happy news to hear that perhaps B&N thinks the market a little too crowded and the current shelving is what you see and what you get.

14 Responses

  1. Termagant 2 said:

    Yet another instance of how forces way, WAY beyond our control dictate what will sell and what will not.

    Maybe B&N needs to remove some of the lame-o, strange-o nonfic to make room for quality YA fiction?

    Ya think?

    I’m glad now I don’t write YA.


  2. Jill James said:

    Sometimes knowledge is a dangerous thing, like finding out a YA might not sell because of lack of shelf space, how weird is that??? The more I learn in this business the less I feel I know. LOL

  3. LadyBronco said:

    That’s what happens when you leave big decisions like that to the bean counters, and not to anyone in the heirarchy that actually reads. (or has family that reads)

  4. Diantha said:

    I’m not a YA author, so I don’t feel this decision the way the YA people do. However, this saddens and concerns me on a much broader level. I’m a college professor and I see a lot of very poor writing among the students. While a number of factors contribute to poor writing skills, I’m convinced that a major factor is the minimal amount of reading these young people have done over the years. They don’t know what a well-written sentence or paragraph looks like, therefore they struggle to produce their own. Fewer YA books means even fewer opportunities for future college students / adults to benefit from both the joys and lessons of reading.


  5. Anonymous said:

    Does this include middle grade? My middle grade series debuts in a couple of months.

  6. Kimber An said:

    My head spins factoring in all this when trying to decide which of my stories to polish up for submission. In the end, it’s going to be the one who screams the loudest anyway.

  7. Gina said:

    Here’s a little info I just now looked up because I was wondering about B&N store size. In my town, we have a MONSTRO-sized B&N and a kinda-small B&N

    “Barnes & Noble stores range in size from 10,000 to 60,000 square feet depending upon market size, with an overall average store size of 25,000 square feet.”

  8. Anonymous said:

    It’s particularly unfortunate because so many YA books are classics that never leave the shelves, and others are multi-book series. Where’s the room for the new?

  9. Colorado Writer said:

    Funny, I was just thinking about infinite shelf space at the library last night. The picture book sections looked like they were going to explode. The YA section was not as full, but the MG section was packed together like sardines in a can.

    Same thing must happen in stores if books don’t “move.” Eventually the best-selling authors will be the only ones on the shelf.

    Solution: Be one of those authors.

    Thanks Kristin for the insider info.

  10. Anonymous said:

    Hey, let’s get one of those published writers up here to fight with her agent– you know, the ones who are always saying, “We aren’t competing for shelf space- there’s more than enough room for all of us!”

    The ones who say they aren’t at odds with the unpublished, because someday one of their books won’t get picked up because a newbie’s book has taken away a bit of precious shelf space. Because one day, there will be one extra romance novel going to Barnes & Noble and it won’t be theirs.

    Boy of boy oh boy, does anyone else pay attention closely enough to realize that there is a lot of hypocrisy going on hereabouts? It has been said by the anonymous posters that agents and authors are deliberately discouraging to unpublished writers, in order to preserve their own livelihoods by keeping competition for “shelf-space” low. Each time, those anonymous voices have been shushed and ridiculed as “bitter failures” suffering from terminal cases of “sour grapes”.

    And then here we go, with a posting on just how limited shelf space can be, and how it will effect authors’ sales to publishers. Hardy-har-har.

  11. da said:

    Someone said this on a previous posting, and it seems remarkably relevant to what the last poster states (probably the same guy/gal)-

    “If I was in a pigeon-holeing kind of mood, I’d have you pegged as one of those published writers who sees unpublished writers as unneccessary competition for shelf-space. Screw everybody who says they aren’t competing for spots at B&N (Kristin even states that YA authors are running out of spots at that very store)- we all know publishing is a competetive business. You probably think the rest of us are just scum getting in the way of your next book.”

    This was addressed to a published author who seemed to be looking down at unpublished authors shmoozing agents at conferences.

  12. Anonymous said:

    “Boy of boy oh boy, does anyone else pay attention closely enough to realize that there is a lot of hypocrisy going on hereabouts?”

    I don’t see it that way. Busy author gets request from an unpublished writer, asking whether she can read his manuscript and refer him to her agent. Busy author apologises, but is working on latest book. Busy author is now linking arms with comrades as they strive to hold back the ranks of worthy but unrecognised writers, keeping them from the prize at the end of the rainbow.

    Trust me, I’ve seen it happen.

    The only true solution is to remove all contact details from author websites – only to then be accused of being ‘remote’ and ‘inaccessible’.

    Yes, it’s a competitive industry, but please bear in mind most published authors don’t earn enough to give up their day jobs, and don’t have enough free time to help kick-start or manage other writers’ careers.

    When forced to choose between spending an evening with my family, or reading your unpublished manuscript, my family take priority. And I would expect (and hope) other published authors would do the same.