Would you like a book with that pancake mix?

I know, I really need to link to other sources than the New York Times, but damn, if they don’t make it so easy!

On Sunday, the Times ran a short article in the Business section on how publishers are increasing their efforts to get books into non-traditional retailers like Urban Outfitters and, yes, Cracker Barrel.

Talk about a slow news day—please, oh great and powerful NYT, tell us something we don’t know! Reaction has been appropriately snarky, from the mild sarcasm of the “Breaking NYT news” rejoinder on Publisher’s Marketplace to the more acerbic response on Gawker—though, surprisingly for Gawker, there’s a pretty cute photo that accompanies the article. Mmmm, pancakes…

But kidding aside, here’s the question: Have you ever bought a book at Cracker Barrel? Or, more broadly, have you ever bought a book at a non-traditional retailer? If so, was it an impulse buy, or did they carry something you had actually wanted in advance? Did price factor into the decision? Would love to hear your stories, because while the Times article isn’t exactly a revelation, non-traditional retailers are indeed an increasingly important part of the business, yet one that’s very hard to measure. So any anecdotes would be much appreciated!

6 Responses to Would you like a book with that pancake mix?

  1. L. M. Quinn says:

    Last year I attended a non-traditional book signing for 3 authors at a gourmet food/wine shop in L.A last year. The topic was romance – how to write it, get it and keep it. The 3 writers did a panel discussion and then mingled with the audience while all munched/drank. It was a lovely way to learn about these authors and their successes, and their books few out the door with members of the audience (I bought 2). I would think that getting the shop to continue to carry your books (and those of other authors)and continue book signings might work very well for both the store/authors.

  2. Ian Bontems says:

    I’ve never bought a book at a non-traditional retailer and don’t think I would if I had any other choice.

    Seeing books being sold that have nothing to do with the setting would more than likely put me off that book – what’s wrong with the book that it has to be sold in Cracker Barrel instead of a bookstore? No offence meant to Dolly’s finest, of course.

    Okay, so a book about food/drink/romance being sold in a restaurant would be a natural fit, but a gothic horror or a science fiction thriller? Nah.

    I like to go to a bookstore if I want to buy a book. You know that a store dedicated to books will more than likely have what you’re looking for rather than take pot-luck or have to rely on the special.

  3. Joelle says:

    Personally, if Cracker Barrel could figure out a way to tie my book into its gift shop, I’d be thrilled. Seriously. While I don’t eat their food (because they don’t know what the word vegetarian means, among other reasons…like I live in Canada now, not Tennessee), their gift shop is HOPPING. People are buying everything. The thing is, they tie everything in to their shtick so if your book fits there, like a cookbook on the best biscuits ever, then why not?

    And while I don’t recall buying a book at a nontraditional store, I have bought CDs in gift shops where the music is by locals. And also at Starbucks. I could see me buying a book any place if it interested me.

    My book was carried on the BC Ferries in their gift shop, which for all intents and purposes, is not much different than The Cracker Barrel gift shop. My book has a BC connection and it’s a coup to get a book in their shops because they have very little space, especially as a debut YA author, and they appear to have sold them out, so I’m certainly not going to complain!

  4. Kelly Klem says:

    I’m thinking restaurants may give out some of their secrets (some sell take home sauces, etc). I would by a “concept” book at Cracker Barrel most likely as a gift because it would be geared to cat lovers or some particular adorable penchant.

  5. I don’t think I have, and I don’t think I would unless it were something I could only get there (like something about a specific region, or a special cookbook, that interested me despite my not buying a lot of those books). Well, I may have bought science books at museums in the past, but I’m not sure that’s TOO untraditional. If it were a novel or something like that, I would note the title and try to find it on Amazon later, expecting that it would be more expensive in the store.

  6. Kristi says:

    My mom rents books on tape from Cracker Barrel when she makes long car trips. Its kind of like renting movies at McDs, I guess. She jyst drops the at the next stop down the road.

    Hmmm..wonder if she would like a Kindle..similar concept I guess.

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