Major bookstore chains such as Barnes and Noble, Chapters , Waterstone’s, and many others have gravitated towards selling toys to make up for slower book sales. Toys are not just for the big players in the industry, but many indie bookstores are finding that offering children’s toys is bringing new customers into the shop. Indie bookstores have great resources to find e-readers, ebooks, and the traditional book, but where do they look to find toys?
Indie bookstores are finding themselves needing to diversify out of selling just books and following the trends of the major bookstores. Booksellers who are interested in adding or expanding their toy offerings are recommended to check out the major toy awards lists for ideas. Many of the top booksellers often look at the ASTRA Best Toys for Kids, Mensa Select, and The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval. If you want to actually get some solid hands-on time with the toys before you invest in them, indie booksellers are recommended to visit the the ASTRA and Toy Fair shows.
What are the the big toy trends for 2013 for indie bookstores? HABA Lilliputiens‘ new line of of high-end soft toys with a wholesale cost from $6.50 to upwards of $30 were going to be big this year. The Learning Center is finding great success with the Magformers and Magna-Tiles product line. Also, Hogwild Poppers and Pocket Disc round off the best recommendations for small bookstores.
Toy selling is not just reserved for the big stores like Barnes and Noble, who only got into the game in 2010. They aren’t just for comic book stores, either, though they have been selling models, toys, and action figures for decades. Indie bookstores are strongly encouraged to start offering children’s toys to offset the demand for books and the strong competition in the ebook segment. Honestly, for as many book shows that I visit, selling toys is never on any speaker’s list and you would be hard-pressed to find any professionals actually talking about it. Most just tend to lament that digital books are cannibalizing the small bookstore, but in order to compete, you have to look at alternative revenue sources. It is important for stores to look at the success of the chains and European bookstores and adopt those strategies into your own book shop.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.