I was a store manager for a number of years for a national bookstore chain. I worked in two different stores and opened a third. I always made my sales numbers. My staff followed me from one store to the next. As a manager, publishers send you advance reading editions of new books coming out. At one point, I could have opened a bookstore of my own with the number of books I had collected and read. You can sell what you read. Know your product. Know your customer. That’s how you make your sales numbers. Pretty basic retail/sales strategy. It works.
What I learned very quickly is that people can be categorized exactly like a bookstore according to what they read. Different personalities read certain subjects.
Avid readers usually read a variety. There are a lot of avid readers in the world. They are hands down my favorite. Rarely do they buy self help and inspirational quotes unless it’s a gift for someone or highly publicized. Avid readers want to know why everyone is reading that particular book. They don’t necessarily want the help involved in the self help. They will tell someone to read The Art of War or a biography of a successful person instead of a book labelling a new mental illness or why you are a victim. They will tell someone to read a book with a fictional character that portrayed success. They will tell someone to read the history of a country, war, or a culture instead of believing the latest political agenda. They can tell you the life history of authors, what those authors have written and the biography of most historical figures. They can tell you the history of the world and religion. They read the latest science articles. They can have an educated conversation about nearly any topic. They read fiction and nonfiction. They read for enjoyment and for educating themselves. I love these people. A lot of them are now bloggers.
Self help, relationship, and inspirational quote readers are also the buyers of fad diet and exercise books. They are generally in some type of crises. I heard more personal stories over the years than I ever wanted to hear. I heard about divorces, abuse, medical issues, social issues….. You name it. I heard the story. People will tell a complete stranger nearly anything. Most of these people are very nice and in a dark place or struggling with an inner battle. They’re unhappy about something in their life. There are some great self help and relationship websites and books available. Inspirational quotes help a lot of people just get through their day. These people are looking for answers.
The Bible is the most stolen book. We had stores that didn’t even put it out but made people ask for it because it’s stolen so often. We always just said we hope they read it after they steal it. We were forever cleaning the porn out of the religious section of the store. We stopped more than one person walking out the door with an unpaid for bible wrapped in an adult magazine. Religious people REALLY like their porn. Yes, people would take porn to the religious section so that no one would think they were reading or looking at porn. However, I can’t begin to tell you how many people I sold religious books and porn or erotic literature too all in one sale. The porn, erotic literature and religious buyer is often the same person. Those books on sexually deviant behavior….same person. People are often not how they present themselves. Maybe they’re trying to change. I’m not entirely sure of the process going on there. Guilt? I don’t know. Yes, there are people that buy a Bible and a devotional book only. That section is truly a mixed bag.
Young adults trying to figure out who they are and their belief systems buy philosophy and theology books. They are fun too. They also tend to explore various religions. Wicca is a very popular and attractive religion or belief system for this age group.
Mystery, horror, and romance are almost a cult following. They know what they want to read. Leave them alone. They enjoy the search, the topic, and the style of the author.
The best seller buyer is synonomous with the person who only wears, purchases, and buys the latest trend. This is the person concerned with how many likes they have on FB. The writing and content of the best seller is irrelevant. It could be complete garbage. Doesn’t matter. Sheeples.
Nonfiction readers vary but they want specific topics, information, or authors. They can be business people looking for strategies, biography readers interested in certain time periods of history, or researchers wanting to know about history or science. They’re on a pretty specific mission. The political and cultural readers are always fun. Most only want to be in an echo chamber and have their own view reinforced. I like to shake those people up on occasion. Always read both sides of anything. Nothing is ever completely unbiased regardless of the author’s genuine attempt to make it so.
I’ve saved my very favorite for last. The science fiction/fantasy reader. Personally, this is my reading preference, along with horror novels. This reader is looking for something specific and will know it when they find it. Leave them alone. These authors discovered years ago that if you give a book a theme of good against evil, you can write about and address any social, scientific, political, cultural, or religious topic to your hearts content while staying off the radar. You can write about literally anything if you give it the context of being on a different planet or realm etc. No one cares. Some of these authors understand basic human behavior better than self help authors. They also have the benefit of being able to speak or write freely due to the context in which they are writing. They can say things a self help author can’t necessarily say or write.
What I learned. Leave whatever section of the store you are in occasionally and go explore a different area. You might be surprised how it changes your perspective.