Each week we highlight and expound on a question or section from our Publisher Resources page on our website. The more you know, the better you can publish, so we invite you to check out the information we offer.
Costco (United States and Canada), Sam’s Clubs, and BJ’s Wholesale have the ability to buy big quantities, but do so with very limited SKUs. SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) are made up of a combination of books, usually in a similar vein. The success of the SKU depends upon the success of the whole lot. Each store must hit an average weekly per SKU amount, and if they don’t meet the goal, the product is cut.
The buyers have very little discretionary choice over the SKUs, probably less than 20%. The SKUs are mostly dominated by bestsellers.
To break this down a little bit, a SKU is an assortment of products that are ordered and shelved together, particularly at some of the member-only big box stores. Instead of ordering per book, the buyer thinks in terms of a package.
For example, around July 4th, they may do an assortment of grilling books. These stores tend to wait to see what books are selling well instead of trying to figure out what the next big book may be. So they will look at the best-selling grilling books and put together this package.
The whole SKU must do well for a reorder. If one book does well but the whole lot doesn’t meet performance standards, no reorder.
We have had several publishers say to us that they believe that if we can just get their book into one of these outlets, the book would do very well. This may be true, but it helps to understand their ordering process and how a book must fit into one of their SKUs to work.
We do present to these types of stores, and we are always on the lookout for the types of books that will do well with their SKUs.
Photo: Abras2010, Creative Commons