On April 1, 2009, Borders announced plans to refocus on children's books. At yesterday's shareholders meeting, CEO Ron Marshall shared details of how Borders plans to tap into this "tremendous growth" opportunity. Here are some excerpts from today's Publisher's Weekly article:
-Borders will turn much of its dying music and movies section space into bigger children's book areas.
-The company has been "really underdeveloped in kids," and its share of families in "prime kids years" was low. By contrast, Barnes & Noble has established children's departments with story hours and special events. Expanded childrens' book sections will be rolled out to every Borders store within 90 days, Anne Kubek, Borders executive vice president of merchandising and marketing, said after the shareholders meeting.
-In recent years, [Marshall] acknowledged, customers may have confused Borders with a toy store or a candy shop, a strategy of "lifestyle selling" that brought in action figures and yoga mats....Borders plans to carry education games and toys and teaching devices as well as books, and will relocate young adults and teen books away from the baby and youth books, Kubek said. Teen books often will be positioned close to the manga and science fiction titles, since "teens cross shop those."
-Borders has established "a compressed cycle" of ordering books, going from 12 weeks to four weeks in mid February to about two weeks now, Marshall said. That "just in time" ordering reduces returns to publishers and allows buyers to select more titles based on more information and media buzz, said Anne Roman, a Borders spokeswoman.
-Unfortunately, Borders has a long way to go before it is back on solid financial footing. They lost $186.7 million in the fiscal year ended in January, and Marshall cautioned shareholders not to expect a strong rebound in sales for years.
Children's Writers...rather than allow doom and gloom of that last paragraph to cloud the good news of this post, let's work together as the amazing kidlit community that we are and create great books, create big media buzz, and get our books on Border's bookshelves. Bigger children's book sections means opportunity for each and every one of us. But, the book and the buzz must bring in customers, drive sales and establish the importance of children's books not only for the well being of our children, but for the well being of our publishers and booksellers.
Thank you Ron Marshall and Borders for getting back to the business of selling books and recognizing the buying power of children's book customers.
I shall now jump off my soapbox. Have a great Memorial Day Weekend. God Bless America and all the wonderful men and women who keep us safe.