The role of the booksellers

The book business is an industry run by booksellers, marketers and publishers. Over the last few decades book publishing has become more commercial than ever and the big publishing companies will not back a book unless it is a sure bet. It is all about selling and whether the retail outlets can persuade the public to buy your book. This blog is not really about the independent local booksellers but the multi-national companies that have monopolised the book market for years.


Publishing houses are actively acquiring books they believe the big booksellers will like. If the bookseller wont stock the book, the book will not sell. It is the book cover and how enticing it is that gives a book an edge with the bookseller. Many retailers base their judgements on whether to stock the book on the cover and usually the author has no say in this at all.


Big book chains have been centralising the ordering of books, which means there are one or two people deciding for the chain store which books children will read all over the country. The retail market is 70% chain. Waterstones bought Foyles in September 2018.

The buying process for Foyles will now work in a similar way as it does for fellow Waterstones-owned bookshops Hatchards and Hodges Figgis, with the initial layer of ordering done by the central team in Piccadilly rather than by Foyles buyers. Bespoke ordering will then be layered on top.

The Bookseller October 1, 2019

‘High concept’ books are the easiest to sell as they are more commercially successful because they stand out from the crowd.


It is quite scary the impact the big bookstores have on the publishing world and when you realise they monopolise over 70% of the book selling market it is understandable why writing for children has become more competitive. In turn, more and more consumers are buying books from large supermarket chains and the big book chains feel squeezed by these supermarkets muscling in on their territory.


The internet is part of this rumbling revolution. Large online booksellers such as Amazon are seen as a threat by publishers as they are able to give large discounts on books, cutting profits. They can also create a lot of publicity for a book through online advertising and linking from authors websites. I think this is one of the reasons why more authors are turning to self-publishing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s