Tuesday, July 21, 2009

BORDERS INK SHOPS HOPE TO HOOK TEEN BUYERS

Borders Aims to Capitalize on Teens With New Shops

Growth Categories including Graphic Novels, Fantasy and Young-Adult Titles to be Grouped with Merchandise.

by Jefferey A. Trachtenberg
Wall Street Journal July 21, 2009

Borders Group Inc. is launching a teens department to capitalize on such hot writers as Stephenie Meyer and Sarah Dessen, as young-adult authors provide a badly needed lift to booksellers.

The Borders Ink shops, which will stock graphic novels, fantasy and young-adult titles together, are expected to be available in 80% to 90% of the 513 superstores Borders operates nationwide by the end of August. Some have already opened in Michigan.

The space for the departments has often been carved from areas that previously sold music and DVDs, whose popularity has faded with bookstore shoppers.

Borders will cater to teen readers with a department featuring their favorite authors.

A pilot shop in Michigan.borders

Borders also plans to stock merchandise it thinks teens will snap up, including a variety of goods associated with Ms. Meyer, the writer of the vampire "Twilight" series, such as bookmarks and pencil cases.

"We want this to be about more than just the book," said Kathryn Popoff, vice president of merchandising/trade books at Borders, based in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Borders, the nation's second largest bookstore chain by revenue, has also planted its teen flag on Facebook, where it has created a Borders Ink page in hopes of becoming a "source for info on all things teen lit and graphic novels." One of the lead items posted on Monday featured the Scott Pilgrim series of graphic novels created by Canadian cartoonist Bryan Lee O'Malley.

The retailer declined to say how much it is spending on its teen initiative.

At a time when book retailing is slumping, young-adult titles and graphic novels are still delivering growth. Albert N. Greco, a professor at the Fordham University's Graduate School of Business Administration who studies the book industry, estimates that young-adult fiction, fantasy and science fiction will generate $744.3 million in U.S. publisher revenue this year, up 13% from $659.1 million in 2008.

That compares with U.S. publisher revenue of an estimated $9.73 billion for consumer books as a whole, a 4.7% decline from 2008's sales, according to Mr. Greco.

A spokeswoman for Barnes & Noble Inc., New York, the largest U.S. bookstore retailer, said it has long offered separate teen areas.

At one Barnes & Noble store in midtown Manhattan, teen titles are in the lower level, while graphic novels, which Barnes & Noble merchandises as a separate category, are on the second floor.

The teen category is now so attractive that Harlequin, the romance publisher, recently launched a new Harlequin Teen imprint, aimed at readers aged 12- to 18-years-old. Natashya Wilson, senior editor of Harlequin Teen, part of Toronto, Canada, based Torstar Corp., plans to publish three teen titles in 2009 and 17 in 2010, with the first, "My Soul to Take" by Rachel Vincent, coming out next month.

Write to Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg at jeffrey.trachtenberg@wsj.com

For more information, see my other BORDERS posts.

9 comments:

  1. I think this is a really smart move for Borders. It will be interesting to see how it does.

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  2. I am just so happy that Borders is doing better finanically than last year. I would have cried my eyes out if they went out of business because of this economy. God bless them.

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  3. Glad to hear about this teen section--love the picture. It was also interesting to hear about Harlequin Romance coming out with a teen imprint!

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  4. I LOVE the look of the Borders Inc section of the store. I would buy so many books there.
    Yay they're getting on board with YA fic. They have discovered it's power of awesome.

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  5. That is just cooler than cool. It's downright hot!

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  6. How interesting! As a writer of YA fantasy, I'm interested to see booksellers making a clear association in their marketing between teen books and fantasy books.

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