Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Walmart Book Department Shrinkage

by Keli Gwyn (@keligwyn)
Every time I visit my local Walmart, I head straight for the book department. I can't help myself. I love books.

When I reach the aisle, I start off at the Harlequin section. I never tire of seeing my fellow Love Inspired authors' books showing off their pretty covers.

This past week when I made my routine visit, I turned the corner, took one look and ground to a stop. Why? Because the department I know and love had undergone changes.

The first thing I noticed was that brand new signs directed readers to the various sections. That made my day because I figured Walmart wouldn't invest in new signage if they planned to remove the department.

After I'd oohed and aahed a bit, I noticed more changes. The first was that Harlequin's section was well stocked, with the Love Inspired books in their customary spots.

Moving along the aisle, I was met with an unpleasant surprise. Although the new signs indicated two sections of Inspirational titles, only one actually held them. The other was filled with mainstream novels. Well not completely filled. There were a number of empty spots.

Moving down the aisle, I noticed that Romance & Fiction had also been reduced to one section, again with noticeable gaps.

A quick glance across the aisle showed that magazine section wasn't exempt from the shrinkage taking place. Either that, or there had been an unprecedented run on magazines.

What do these changes tell us? That the inevitable is taking place: more and more people are opting to purchase their books online or in digital formats, meaning fewer print books are available for sale in brick and mortar stores.

Another thing it tells us is that Harlequin is weathering the downsizing better than most. Readers of their three Love Inspired lines will be able to find their books in select Walmart stores for some time to come, which makes this reader happy.


Where do you usually make your Love Inspired purchases?

Have you noticed changes in your local Walmart's book department?


Valri said...

Yep, I noticed changes in my Walmart too but nothing like your store! Man, yours must be big! Ours is a Super Walmart and it's pretty new but it doesn't feel like it! Every section of the store is fairly small. They change the book section all the time - I'm used to it! This time the books were basically in three sections - Childrens, YA and "Regular". All the LI's are grouped together though so that's nice! If they get out of order, I take it upon myself to fix it!

Keli Gwyn said...

Valri, I think the reason the book department at our Walmart is so large is that we don't have a big box bookstore nearby. The nearest Barnes & Noble is an hour away.

I love that you keep the LI section in your Walmart looking shipshape. I've been known to spiff up ours on occasion, too.

Keli Gwyn said...

Jackie, it seems the only constant in the publishing world these days is change. The print book is becoming a rarity as digital gains ground. I'm old-fashioned and will probably always prefer print, but I do enjoy the convenience of my Kindle.

Keli Gwyn said...

Jennifer, I've noticed that some Walmarts offer books and others don't, at least here in California. Those that do offer them offer have different-sized book departments. I wonder if that depends on the proximity of other booksellers. As I mentioned in the post, the nearest B&N is an hour away, which makes our Walmart book department one of the few places in the area to buy a print book.

We don't have any Krogers out here, at least not that I've seen. It must be a regional chain.

Leann Harris said...

Walmart is where I shop.

Keli Gwyn said...

Leann, Walmart is convenient, isn't it? I'm in there at least once a week.

Library Lady said...

I avoid Walmart like the plague but I have noticed other stores that I buy books in have shrunk their selection of books considerably.
If this is a sign of the times I hope I won't be around to see the "demise of the book".
Janet E.
(Library Lady)

Jean Mangels said...

I'm finding the same thing at WalMart. Target has been pretty bad with the Harlequin books for a long time now and no Love Inspired. We're finding that we're having better luck with KMart and Barnes and Noble. With Barnes and Noble you just have to know where to look in the store, each one is different. Love Inspired can be found either with the other Harlequin books in Romance or in Inspirational. Looking for books when they're supposed to be coming out? Forget WalMart and Target. KMart is better in that area. The best is Barnes and Noble. We shop at all 4 of these stores here in the Bay Area of California.

Unknown said...

My sister and I are finding it harder and harder to find books at Walmart or even Target. The discount at Target was decreased to 15% from 25%. Then try finding Harlequin books at Target. I was just at Walmart and the book section is just awful, and the magazines are decreasing, and find a Puzzle Magazine???? None of those at all on the shelf. What is with the shelves, forcing us to buy eReaders, which I refuse to buy. Thank you, I want a paperback book, which doesn't need to be having batteries charged or replaced every couple of years

Keli Gwyn said...

Janet, aka Library Lady,

I know not everyone is a fan of Walmart. I live in a small town with few large stores, so our Walmart is a destination of many. We do have a Kmart, but few people shop there. I do. They carry the three Love Inspired lines, so I have to drop by and pay them a visit from time to time. =)

It's sad to see book sections shrinking, isn't it? Like you, I hope I don't live long enough to see the print book become obsolete. While I like my Kindle for reading fiction on occasion, there's nothing like the feel and smell of paper and ink, is there?

Keli Gwyn said...

Jean, our Kmart stocks the three Love Inspired lines, as does our Walmart. There's even one supermarket in town that carries the Love Inspired contemporary romances.
Our nearest Barnes and Nobel carries the contemporary LIs as well, but they don't carry Love Inspired Suspense or Love Inspired Historical. Since I write for LIH, that makes me sad. =(

Keli Gwyn said...

Fay, it's sad to see book sections shrinking, isn't it? I think the online stores with their huge discounts are drawing away so many shoppers that the brick and mortar stores have no choice but to scale back. Unless people are willing to pay more for books sitting on actual shelves in actual stores, I don't see things changing, unfortunately.

Writers and Readers said...

I have noticed this the last few times I was able to get to an American Walmart where books I want to read are available. No stores here carry English books, except for one place. And there is only one Christian bookstore, but it is French. I don't get to the US often enough to quench my love for Christian novels often. I miss them.
I have also been a big reader for over 2 decades. The shortage is disturbing, to say the least. It's a real shame that the decent books are not Kindle-ized nearly as much as the others. :(

Keli Gwyn said...

Writers and Readers, I'm sorry you have a hard time finding print books in English where you are. I'm thankful Love Inspired offers their books in e-formats for readers who want to enjoy them that way.

Susan Anne Mason said...

So sad, Keli. Where are we going to get our book fix from when all the book stores are gone?

Our Wal Marts aren't as good as yours for the amount of books. Our Targets are terrible. No discount at all.

Our big book store is Chapters and they have started to sell a lot of giftware as well as books. As long as they don't close and keep a good supply of books, I'll be happy.


Keli Gwyn said...

Sue, Chapters is such a great name for a bookstore, isn't it?

I dread the day bookstores are no more. I've often wondered what would happen to libraries if print books become obsolete? I'd cry, that's for sure.

Pamela Tracy said...

I need to go look at my local walmart. Last time I was there I was so focused on school supplies that I forgot to have fun.

I tend to buy my Love Inspired books at the grocery store. I shop at Frys. Costs a bit more, but I'm there more than I'm at Walmart.

And, Walmart won me over when Mike was a baby. It had the most reasonable diapers - even better than Costco.

Wouldn't it be great if Costco carried Love Inspired in bundles!

Dana Corbit said...

I tend to shop more at Meijer in Michigan, a store which also shelves all Love Inspired lines, but I've been hearing from readers that they haven't been able to find my most recent titles. I find that terribly frustrating.

Wilma said...

I am elderly and don't shop much, I will have to check this out. I read constantly, but get most of my books from the library.

Keli Gwyn said...

Pamela, it's hard to believe it's time to buy school supplies already, isn't it? My high school science teacher hubby is already back for his pre-school meetings.

How convenient it would be to pick up the Love Inspired books at the supermarket. Mine carries the LI contemporaries but, sadly, not LIS or LIH.

I would love to see Costco carry the LI, LIS and LIH book bundles. We can hope.

Keli Gwyn said...

Dana, I'm a California gal who only learned about Meijer recently. It's great that they carry the LI lines, but it sounds like that varies from store to store, just as it does with Walmart.

Keli Gwyn said...

Wilma, the library is one of my favorite places. Ours used to have a bring one, take one bin where readers could swap paperback romances, but I haven't seen it recently. I'll have to ask what happened to it. Does your library carry the Love Inspired books, or are they available to swap?

Patsy said...

I can't always afford to buy a lot of new books so a couple of us swap books around. I have also found some Love Inspired books at second-hand book stores for a great buy!
(From Mississippi)

Keli Gwyn said...

Patsy, sharing books with friends is a great way to discover new authors, isn't it?

Keli Gwyn said...

Sharon, I'm curious. Do you buy the Love Inspired books individually or as bundles? It looks like a good deal. The four bundled August Love Inspired Historicals are just $14.39 right now.

Dana R. Lynn said...

I have an ereader, but I still prefer the feel of a real book. I also love the atmosphere at Barnes and Noble. That being said, I'm almost an hour away from a book store. I like that Walmart has all the Love Inspired books out early. My Walmart does not carry the Heartsong or Heartwarming books, though.

Keli Gwyn said...

Dana, our Walmart carried the Heartsong titles for a short while. I was sorry to see them go.

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Hi, I'm curious about something. Any of you ever see any Heartsong Presents titles in Walmart? I've seen them a few times in Kmart, but, seeing them is hit or miss. I know HP is a separate line but, I just wondered is all.

I no longer purchase paper copies of Love Inspired (or any other books for that matter). I purchase them as e-books. In spite of my not purchasing books from Walmart (or Kmart) - I do visit the book section - first place that I look. I noticed in my local Kmart that they have an inspirational section, but, a good portion of it does NOT contain inspirational titles! Strange to have an inspirational section without inspirational books!

Keli Gwyn said...

Cecelia, my local Walmart only carried the Heartsongs Presents titles for a short time, and then they disappeared. I've yet to see them in our Kmart. Both stores carry all three Love Inspired lines, though.

I spoke with the nice ladies who stock Kmart's book section. They told me the LI titles (all three lines) fly off the shelves and they never send any back for that reason. If a couple of copies are left one month, they just leave them because they know they'll sell the next.