COVID has really had a profound change in book signings, book conferences, and many different areas of reading, writing, and marketing. Now that things are letting up slightly, I approached Costco about doing a possible book signing. I had heard from other writers that Costco does allow authors despite not having their books sold by Costco to allow a book signing.
First and foremost, a book signing is a difficult thing, especially as an Indie Author. The timing has to be right and you have to have plenty of books on display. You are likely not well known and therefore must have an eye-catching cover and the location must be perfect. Costco seems like a great option.
I went to the management and pitched my book signing plan. It would have to be in four or five weeks and I was hoping to get a good spot just inside the main doors. The other option is near the main aisle. What I didn’t want was to be by the book area, if at all possible. I felt that this was similar to being placed in the “corner” and I wanted exposure.
As usual, I got way ahead of myself because I assumed a book signing was probably a done deal. Turns out, Costco isn’t big on book signings unless the book is being sold in their stores. (At least that was what I was told by my local Costco) The management told me that I should really look into getting my book in their store. I had heard from other authors that this is a good and bad thing. Costco allows for returns of all items and books are a big area where people return books. The cost would be placed on my shoulders if any books were returned. Months ago, I had previously called the headquarters and spoke with someone who only provided basic information and I decided not to even try.
After talking with management, they asked to see my book. I brought in a copy and they felt that it had a great cover and she was willing to take my book to the purchasing team and see if they would be willing to stock my book in their store. The idea is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. I don’t know exactly what the process will be, but after talking with some marketing friends, I was easily swayed into giving the opportunity a chance. I don’t know to process or the likelihood of getting an indie book into Costco. Time will tell!
Here’s a question for those willing enough to answer. How often, after finishing a book that you’ve purchased, do you consider returning it?
If you are an Author – have you ever done a book signing at Costco? If so, how was your experience?
I’ve never returned a book I’ve read–and most I’ve never read. My brother-in-law did a lot of business with Costco–and they did have to put up with a lot of ridiculous returns, but overall it was worth it to them.
Also, Costco is the one place I’m likely to impulse buy a book, FWIW.
I used to buy tons of books (computer stuff, mostly). I have never ever returned a book. I’ve donated and resold a few.
I’m sure there are some dead beats that would buy a book, read it and return it. Don’t know if there is a place to find out how often that happens.
I live about 60 miles from my nearest Costco, so I don’t get in often (and only a couple times during the shutdown). But as a result, I really notice changes and trends. And I have sadly watched the book section shrink and diminish almost every time I’m in. My last visit a few weeks ago it was so tiny, I’m afraid it’s going to vanish completely.
Well, maybe not, but it will become very specialized. I expect young reader books will be there for a while, for example. But it’s less a general book section all the time.
Frankly, I’m kind of shocked that Costco didn’t just laugh. That they didn’t is a very interesting result. I think I’ve heard of signings at Costco in the olden days, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen one.
My big concern is the economics. Back when I was writing computer books in the 80s, getting your book in costco was a very mixed blessing. You MIGHT sell a ton of books, but contracts on these “discount” sales cut royalties to nothing. It COULD put you on the bestseller lists (when those were still important), but it could use up a huge slice of your print run, and most could end up pulped or sold at no-royalty discounts if they didn’t sell within a few days. It was some (maybe not much) or nothing. Indie economics will be different, but I can see how it could eat you alive if the books don’t move (and fast).
Foremost, I’d ask what are you REALLY trying to accomplish here? Why do you want a signing at all, much less at Costco? Is it just because you see it as “the way books are always sold? (It really isn’t, at least not lately.) Is it just to boost your own ego? (Big mistake.) Is it to build reader interaction and author awareness? (Might work, has worked, but it’s a long game with many pitfalls.)
Honestly, if you really want a signing, I feel that a sympathetic indie bookstore is probably going to be a much more valuable and less risky venue.
I realize I don’t even know what kind of book we’re talking about here. Costco is about products with strong commercial appeal and EXTREMELY broad (or at least regional) interest. Is that your book? That’s going to be hard anyway, but it will be especially hard for fiction unless you are a celebrity or have a huge personal platform to build on.
I wish you luck, whatever you do, and if you go forward, I hope you share your results. I’ll be very interested to see them.