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View Full Version : How Important Is the Street Date?



AnneMarble
08-15-2014, 01:26 AM
I know the street date is very important for highly anticipated books, such as Harry Potter books, etc. Stores do sometimes put stuff out too early. I once brought a highly anticipated debut YA novel to the counter, and then was told I couldn't buy it yet because they'd put it on the shelf by mistake.

But what about all the other books? I know some publishers make a big deal about not selling before the street date. Some authors make a big deal about this as well, telling fans not to buy the book before the street date. (Other authors think they're nuts. :))

A week or so ago, I was in a book store (BAM) and had a weak moment (or three). I wanted something different, so I bought two children's books in an intermediate series I hadn't heard of before. When I decided to look them up on Amazon, I learned they weren't available until August 26! Whoops, I think they were shelved a tad early? :rolleyes:

Did the store harm the publisher and the author by putting them on the shelves too early? Or is this the sort of case where it doesn't matter all that much?

NRoach
08-15-2014, 01:44 AM
I doubt it has very much effect at all, but the release date is the release date.

Marlys
08-15-2014, 01:48 AM
I worked in bookstores for years, and generally only a handful of books had strict on-sale dates. Others might officially come out on a particular date, but it wasn't a big deal to put them out for sale as they came in--that was more of a soft on-sale date, if that makes sense.

But we really had to be careful of the ones that publishers wanted released on a specific date--the threat was that we could lose out on future big releases (although I'm not sure anything actually happened to the bookstores who even routinely broke strict on-sale dates).

Harry Potter books? Not only were we extremely careful of the sales date, but we had to keep them locked up in the back office until then.

Becky Black
08-15-2014, 12:28 PM
It's a kind of marketing really, getting everyone excited and counting down to that release date. Then some stores throw a midnight party where people can buy the book at last. It's about creating buzz.

I think it's also about getting on bestseller lists. Make a big deal of the release date, get everyone wanting to buy the book as soon as it comes out, and BAM! Straight into the top ten because you have huge sales on the release day. And if it's on the bestseller list that encourages more people to buy it.

Heh, a friend of mine yesterday spotted copies of Captain America: The Winter Soldier on sale in a store - they are not meant to be out in the UK until Monday, and I'm sure a big release like that would have a strict on-sale date, so that's bound to have been a mistake. Poor soul was so torn. She's a big fan, has the movie on pre-order, but could have bought it NOW!

AnneMarble
08-15-2014, 04:20 PM
I worked in bookstores for years, and generally only a handful of books had strict on-sale dates. Others might officially come out on a particular date, but it wasn't a big deal to put them out for sale as they came in--that was more of a soft on-sale date, if that makes sense.

But we really had to be careful of the ones that publishers wanted released on a specific date--the threat was that we could lose out on future big releases (although I'm not sure anything actually happened to the bookstores who even routinely broke strict on-sale dates).

Harry Potter books? Not only were we extremely careful of the sales date, but we had to keep them locked up in the back office until then.
That's what I thought... It is important for those big releases, but it's not as important for most releases -- except for marketing, placement on lists, etc. Still, nearly a month early seems a bit much. :) I wonder if they got it confused with the first two books in the series, whcih had a June release.

I womder how long some of those hot items stay in the back, boxed up, and the same applies to movies. About a week or two the first Twilight movie came out, I noticed a display of thr DVD in my local Wal-Mart. By the time I was done shopping, the display was stilll there, but the movies had been put away. I can just imagine the conversation... "You put what out on the floor?!"

AnneMarble
08-15-2014, 04:23 PM
It's a kind of marketing really, getting everyone excited and counting down to that release date. Then some stores throw a midnight party where people can buy the book at last. It's about creating buzz.

I think it's also about getting on bestseller lists. Make a big deal of the release date, get everyone wanting to buy the book as soon as it comes out, and BAM! Straight into the top ten because you have huge sales on the release day. And if it's on the bestseller list that encourages more people to buy it.

Heh, a friend of mine yesterday spotted copies of Captain America: The Winter Soldier on sale in a store - they are not meant to be out in the UK until Monday, and I'm sure a big release like that would have a strict on-sale date, so that's bound to have been a mistake. Poor soul was so torn. She's a big fan, has the movie on pre-order, but could have bought it NOW!

The list placement is why some authors used to get upset at fans for buying their books early. Of course, I think that is a tad short-sighted. Sure, placement on the lists is important. But if you publically flame fans on your own boards or blogs or whatever, surely that will hurt future placement as fans will stop reading your books. ;)

Marlys
08-15-2014, 04:47 PM
The strict on-sale dates aren't just to build buzz or for best seller timing, it's also about getting the stock to the stores so they all have it before the sale date. That way no customers (or stores) get upset because it's available in one store, city, or state before the trucks have made it to another.

It would be really rare for something to sit around in the back for several weeks--a few days to one week was more typical in my experience. But sometimes a book's on-sale date would change after the books arrived, usually because the publisher realized from pre-orders that something was going to be bigger than they thought and wanted another week or two to build buzz. Sometimes we'd get the news at the last minute and have to go pull books that were already shelved.

Jamesaritchie
08-15-2014, 10:38 PM
Street date is very important for all sorts of reasons, but I suspect the average reader has no clue such a thing even exists.

areteus
08-15-2014, 10:50 PM
When I did World Book night this year I managed to convince a friend of mine who is published by a major company to come along and do a reading. Her publisher said they would be willing to send some books along to be signed and sold and attempted to deliver to the venue.

Unfortunately, there was a mess up with the delivery and they never arrived but I was later told that, had they arrived, that event would have been the first place in the world that book was on sale because the official release date was later that week.

So sometimes subverting the release date can be a publicity thing...

RedWombat
08-19-2014, 03:36 PM
My first children's book was shipping from Amazon a month before the stated date.

Not a big deal, normally--I'm no Rowling--but they printed my URL in the author bio, and my website overhaul was not anything like complete...as in, it went to my art portfolio, which included a number of pin-ups because I was an illustrator long before I was a children's book author. And since selling art and doing commissions was still 90% of my income, taking down the site entirely would leave me flat broke.

Cue panic.

Fortunately, my boyfriend was a sys admin and he stayed up until five AM getting the kid-friendly version up with all the re-directs and whatnot. I later married him, because seriously, you don't find good help like that every day.

blacbird
08-21-2014, 11:29 AM
Depends upon the street you walk.

caw

Phaeal
08-21-2014, 05:26 PM
It would matter a great deal if the book was the last Harry Potter, with drooling trolls dying to get their claws on it early and cast out spoilers in all directions. As the anticipation frenzy for a particular book declines, so, too, I imagine, the consequences of early copies sneaking out there.