a story, the previous work or sales history of an
author, the category, the cover price or cover
art or if the buyers just have a “gut feel,” they
buy. It’s not uncommon for Costco to purchase
20 to 25 percent of a new book’s first printing.
Such farsightedness pays off. Last fall
Costco placed the largest single retail order for
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Today,
Costco is the number-one retailer in the country for this very moving 21-week New York
Times bestseller (as of September 10, 2008) and
will have copies available for the holidays. Less
savvy retailers will most assuredly run out.
“This team knows what they are doing,”
comments Jeff Rogart, HarperCollins vice
president of sales. “Despite the limited selection of books [compared to industrial-size
bookstores], Costco is consistently one of
our top retailers for total sales and frequently ranks nu mber one or number two
on individual titles.”
As with all passionate book seekers, the
buyers have new and old titles they’ve discovered and wish to share with members. Pennie
notes, “Eventually, all of our favorites end up
on The Table. This is also the impetus behind
my Pennie’s Picks column in The Connection.
It’s my way to resurrect old favorites, share
new discoveries and personalize the table.”
Focusing on trade paperbacks, Pennie
and her staff meet, propose titles, sometimes
have heated debates and narrow the choice
down to one must-read recommendation
a month. The column is wildly successful.
(Pennie’s Picks, listed under Book Buyer’s
Pick, are also available on costco.com.)
In fact, many times Pennie’s Picks become
new bestsellers. Such is the case with Mr.
Lincoln’s Wars by Adam Braver after it was
favored by Pennie—warehouse sales surpassed in one month what had been sold
nationally in the last three years.
To find an updated list of author
signings, go to costco.com, click
on “In the Warehouse” and then
on “Author Signings.”
For submission guidelines,
phone 1-866-678-9390 or e-mail
email@example.com. (Follow the
New titles are often released
Pennie’s Pick is just one example of how
the book department has worked closely with
The Connection over the years to widen members’ awareness of books. For instance, the
book department’s relationships with publishers have helped the magazine gain access to
exclusive interviews with such authors as Wally
Lamb, Patricia Cornwell, David McCullough,
Nicholas Sparks and many others.
Assistant book buyers
Melissa McMeekin, left,
(favorite book: Me & Emma)
and Wendi Wamboldt
(scariest book: Intensity)
predict members will be
buying YOU: Being
Beautiful by Drs. Michael
Roizen and Mehmet Oz.
In every warehouse, no matter the time of
day, people are always gathered around The
Table. I’ve always found something interesting
there, something I want to pick up and read.
I’m really in book heaven during a book
signing. Many times tickets are handed out the
morning of an author’s visit, and lines snake
around aisles and out the front door. Rumor
has it that Presidents Clinton, Carter and Fox
(Mexico) had a blast at their warehouse
appearances. Upcoming signings include Tony
Curtis (American Prince: A Memoir) and Mike
Huckabee (Do the Right Thing).
“Do you realize we have many members,
some of whom are now authors themselves,
who have grown up with The Table?” asks
Pennie. “Thanks to Costco, members can
afford to be voracious readers and take a
chance on a book or author they know nothing about. Our members just keep coming
back for more.”
No matter if you’re a dignitary, a Costco
Connection columnist or a casual reader, Costco
books let you read happily ever after. C
Books on costco.com
MANY TIMES MIRRORING The Table’s offerings, costco.com also carries an expanded
and broader selection of books, some of
which are never offered in the warehouse.
While the site’s book buyer, Donde
Anderson, typically focuses on titles with
more than 100,000 copies in print and a
position on the New York Times bestseller
list, because of its nimbleness costco.com
can quickly bring in books and authors that
suddenly receive a lot of press. Presales of
upcoming releases are a member favorite.
Costco.com offers book excerpts and discussion questions for the monthly Pennie’s
Pick, and the ability to purchase in bulk,
invaluable tools for book clubs.
Extras occasionally include signed books
or a personal note from an author. “J.A.
Jance added a note in her latest book to
those members who purchased on our site,”
says Donde. “Jance revealed she’s a Costco
member and shared how much she likes
her books being sold at Costco. Members
loved this bonus.”—PV
Costco.com book buyer Donde
Anderson says The Tao of Pooh and
The Te of Piglet are the books she
would rescue from her burning house.