What sells and what endures

Is our shelf of Minette Walters going to follow me to my grave? Should we get in more literature or more self-help books? Or are books about dreams or crystals or gardening more likely to be the thing?

By the book

In the 46 weeks we have owned the store up (yes, nearly a year already) we have sold 6,133 books (about 130 a week or 580 a month). This is the break down for the top fifteen genres. These account for nearly 5,000 of the total 6,133 books sold.

Some clarifications:

  • "Literature" is literary fiction, including contemporary novels and classics (but not New Zealand fiction).

  • "Fiction" is genre fiction, the biggest category is crime/thrillers.

  • "Admin" is largely new arrivals. It includes books that we have not yet priced, that live in two big bookcases in the front room.

  • "Display" is books from the front room (other than new arrivals).

  • "New Zealand" is the top level category for all New Zealand fiction and non-fiction.

  • "Bargain", "General interest" and "General" are all bargain books.

From that what we can say is that just on a count of books, about a quarter of the books we sell are fiction (not counting New Zealand). The front room ("Display") plus bargains stock add another quarter.

Weighty volumes

Some books are worth more than others. This chart shows genres ordered by the revenue per book. The 15 most popular genres in the chart above are shaded green. The orange line shows the average revenue per book, which is $8.80 (all revenue figures exclude GST).

You can see that far and away our most valuable books are "ABE", which is our collectible stock. We have sold just 88 of these books so far (less than two per cent of total items sold) but at $54 per book, they have made up nine per cent of our revenue.

Down at the other end of the scale, the bargain categories generate about $1 per book. Literature and fiction, our big sellers, are a bit below average, at $6 to $7 per book. Art books and New Zealand books are both reasonably big sellers at relatively higher prices.

Shelf life

The last step is to bring in a view of what books we have.

We have 19,558 books in our list. The top 15 genres that make up 81 per cent of stock are shown in the next graph.

You can see that about a third of our stock is literature or genre fiction. About 10 per cent is by New Zealand authors, and we have big Art and Bargain sections as well as quite a lot of History, Biography and collectible (ABE) books.

We know we have sold 6,133 books out of 19,558, which means we should expect to sell around 30 per cent of our stock in a year (we need to exclude new arrivals, since they aren't in our stock list yet).

This last chart shows the proportion of books sold against the proportion of stock. The categories to the left are those that are relatively bigger sellers, given how many of them we have. Those on the right are relatively poorer performers.

You can see that Display books (those in the front room) are big sellers (which might also help explain why Curiosities sell relatively well). Children's books, Self-help and New Age books do pretty well too (and they are harder to find in the store). Genre fiction is about average. Literature is slower moving. And we sell relatively fewer New Zealand, Art and ABE books, despite their being relatively higher value. Sad.

All together now

In the next post I will see about putting together a single view of stock, sales and revenue, and seeing if we can draw some conclusions about what our strategy should be.