Borders Aims to Capitalize on Teens With New ShopsGrowth 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 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.
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