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Thank You, Readers

I like to imagine us five, maybe seven years in the future. We’re at some…

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Do you want to change the look and feel of your store and don’t know where to start? Don’t fret TopShelf Magazine is here to help with some useful store decor advice.

Have a Beautiful Space - Whether it's a big or small space, try to make your store memorable. First impressions matter. Don’t bombard your guests with too much, too soon. You want them to browse the entire store. 

A simple display 3 - 7 books of a similar subject, displayed in a triangle or pyramid, keeping the biggest books in the middle and then “pyramid” out with the smaller books, on the end-caps and small tables can be very effective. Make sure the titles are visible from many angles to ensure that your patrons can see the title while approaching from a variety of angles. This space is also perfect for DVDs, children’s books, audiobooks, and so much more. Keep a few permanent displays, like “Staff Picks” or “New This Week,” near the checkout counter. Smaller patrons are attracted to bright colors so put those books on the lower shelves. Always make it so that patrons can shop from the stacks. You don’t want a customer to feel guilty by purchasing a book from the pyramid.

Use the Right Shelving for Your Space - Five-foot tall bookshelves might make your space look bigger, however, taller bookshelves will allow for more books in the same footprint. Many bookstores are designed for short people. If you are using five-foot tall bookshelves, the actual top shelve is around four feet, forcing your patrons to look down for books constantly. Taller bookshelves will bring books to eye-level, making it easier for customers to find what they are looking for.

The Power of Lighting - Store lighting is strategically important, more than you know. Different styles of lighting create a unique shopping experience for your customers. The correct lighting will increase your bottom line. Lighting creates the ultimate atmosphere or mood that will encourage customers to examine books that they wouldn’t have usually considered before.

When you consider increasing sales, your first thought is typically towards marketing, promotions, discounts and advertising. These will be effective for the short term, however, having the proper lighting can have an incredible influence on your sales by showcasing your books and novelties to the best of its advantage.

Ambiance - People come to your establishment to explore and purchase new books. It is your responsibility, to the customer, to make an environment that supports this experience. Many bookstores are becoming creative on how they cater to customers. For example, many bookstores are adding coffee shops within their store so customers can have a cup of coffee or tea while perusing the shelves. Any bookworm will tell you that coffee or tea is the perfect accompaniment to a great book. Comfortable seating and perfect lighting add to the customer's experience. How about adding a reading corner? For example, a fireplace, attractive wall furnishings, rugs, and giant floor cushions would make a perfect reading area. You could also use this space for books clubs and gatherings.

Bargain Books - It's highly recommended that you put bargain books somewhere other than the front of the store. While customers appreciate bargain books, they do not want to see them the first.

Children’s Section - Don’t discount the children’s area. It’s probably one of the most important sections in your store. Parents want to read real books to their children, not books on a device. They want to create those memories with their children. Put the children’s section on the back of your store. This will make it so that parents have to walk through your store to get to that section. Along the way, put novelties and books that will interest parents. Self-help, parenting, cooking, and craft books are usually big hits with parents. Decorate the children’s are in bright colors. Have beanbags or creative seating for reading books. Have a coloring station where kids can decorate a bookmark to go with their new book.

Shelftalkers - If you're like me then you enjoy recommendations for your next read. You look at reviews, the book jacket, etc. I also enjoy it when there are self-talkers with recommendations from the staff or a loyal customer. A well-written shelf talker could and has inspired me to purchase a book that I wouldn’t have considered previously. Imagine the sales that could be generated with just a great shelf-talker and simple LED light highlighting the book's cover! BOOM! No question it will sell like hotcakes on a cold winter morning! 

If you chose to use shelf-talkers, then it's essential that you have the selected books in stock. It would be terrible if you ran out of stock and left the shelf barren. Get staff picks ahead of time and make sure you add a few extra to your weekly/monthly order. Always use the staff member's name on the shelf-talker. This will allow the customer to learn employee names as well as who they can trust. The customer will most likely purchase the next book that employee recommends.

Keep Book Selection Dynamic - Customers should see something new on a regular basis. Who wants to keep coming back to a store that always has the same stock? For this reason, I think it's ok to discount books that aren’t selling. Just be careful not to discount the best sellers too soon. You don’t want to give your customers the impression that if they wait a few weeks, they’ll be able to purchase the book at a cheaper rate. You could also return the books that aren’t selling. Most traditionally published books should be returnable.