One question I get all the time: “How can I get my book into airport bookstores?” The simple answer? You have to be willing to pay for it.
When you walk by an airport bookstore and see stacks of a single title on front-and-center tables or highly-visible displays, those books are occupying prime real estate, and like any prime real estate, you have to pay a premium to occupy that space. In retail jargon, it’s known as a co-op placement fee. And it’s expensive. So expensive that it’s rare for a title to earn enough in book sales at that location to recoup the co-op placement fee.
Then why is airport placement so coveted? More than 2.6 million people travel through airports across the United States every day, which makes the airport market a captive audience of potential book buyers.
It’s not uncommon to see someone pick up a book in Hudson News while waiting for their gate to be called, leaf through the pages, then take out their phone and purchase that same book on Amazon. This could be for a number of reasons, either they don’t want the hassle of travelling with a book, they prefer e-books, or they know they can get the same book for a better price on Amazon or another online retailer. Regardless of the reason, the consumer is still purchasing that book because they saw it in an airport bookstore.
So, think about co-op placement fees as a marketing expense, not a distribution expense. When calculating co-op ROI, it’s important to consider not just the sales at the store level, but also the sales that are later made because a consumer noticed a book in the airport then purchased the title elsewhere.
Some genres seem to fare better than others in the airport market. For example, given the number of business travelers at airports at any given time, business books are perfectly suited for this environment. One of our titles, Age of Intent: Using Artificial Intelligence to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience (Amplify, 2019) is presently at Hudson News locations all over the United States; it’s a book about a transformational technology that’s being discussed in corporations and boardrooms all over the world, thus a perfect fit for the airport market. In the summer, you’ll notice a spike in vacation or beach reads, around the holidays, you’ll come across a lot of “new year, new you” titles.
And there you have the secrets of the airport book market.