The Dan Brown Special

Yet another indicator of the “winner take all” model in bookselling: grocery stores now account for a non-neglibible percentage of book sales, and those sales tend to be focused on “big books” that are already bestsellers.

Supermarkets, long the domain of paperback romances, pulp thrillers and astrology guides, are the new frontier of book selling. Chains like Wegmans, Kroger and Albertsons have greatly expanded their book sections, adapting the techniques that move large amounts of Velveeta and Count Chocula and applying them to Nora Roberts and John Grisham.

Grocery stores have gone beyond the traditional spinning racks of pocket-size paperbacks, adding mahogany fixtures, sitting areas and cafes, and often placing their book sections in the center of the store, where shoppers are likely to stroll. Eye-catching displays of new hardcovers are sprinkled throughout the stores, encouraging impulse purchases: a big display near the entrance, cookbooks near the spice aisle and, in summer, beach reading near the seasonal displays of sunscreen.

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