Home > Uncategorized > How Thomas Nelson Killed a Book’s Sales Potential With a Single Word

How Thomas Nelson Killed a Book’s Sales Potential With a Single Word

one-god-one-plan-one-lifeI’ve sold this Max Lucado devotional several times. The author has instant name recognition. Each of the 365 devotional readings has a scripture verse, a story and some practical application at the bottom. A little light for some perhaps, but exactly what others are looking for. I’ve especially sold it to men. The cover has more of a masculine feel, I guess; especially in a market where so much is geared for Becky, the stereotype female customer. I’ve had good feedback from people who bought it for their husband or someone in their teens, 20s or 30s.

However, each time I’ve sold one of these for an adult, I’ve had to hand-sell it. The reason: Thomas Nelson makes no allowance in its book categories for students or young adults, which is the target market. That category designation isn’t available I suppose. But for every copy I’ve sold, we’ve had other customers who passed. Or the two who were buying it for a student, but got me to put some type of sticker over the offending word, Juvenile.

This is true of other Thomas Nelson products, but I don’t remember this particular problem with other publishers. It’s counterproductive. Better no category. Or Devotional.

Have you had a similar experience with this or other products?


  1. January 9, 2017 at 11:59 am

    “JUVENILE NONFICTION / Religious / Christian / Inspirational” matches code “JNF049250” in the BISAC standard subject code list – see http://bisg.org/page/BISACEdition – and this is what appears in their ONIX data feed.

    Presumably they could have chosen “YAN048040” instead if they thought it appropriate – “YOUNG ADULT NONFICTION / Religious / Christian / Inspirational”

  2. rae-anne
    January 11, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    tyndale has a number of bibles that say either kids slimline or teen slimline on the front and it drives me crazy. the only thing different is they have colorful covers with owls lions the word love or one only has a bible verse designed onto the front. nothing on the inside to dictate age. they sat on my shelf for months before I tested my theory and took off the cardboard sleeves that said teen or kids and immediately sold all of them. even though I told people who thought the covers were great that nothing inside was different from the next nlt they couldnt get over the fact it said kids on the packaging. 9781414363295 9781414387710 9781414387703

    • January 11, 2017 at 8:22 pm

      I’m so glad you mentioned those NLTs from Tyndale, it would have made a good addition to this article. We did exactly the same thing with a Teen Slimline you didn’t mention, 9781414363288. We stripped the sleeves and took them to a women’s conference where we had a really good response. Mind you, I’ve never been impressed that Tyndale is the smartest kid on the block when it comes to marketing, and then they take some really great products and kill them off just as they’re hitting their stride.

      I sometimes have a hard time believing that publishers still bother with advisory panels, where store owners and managers can give them some input; and if you send them emails they ignore them completely.

      I’ll definitely check out the first ISBN you mentioned; we haven’t done that one before; but your second one, the gray coloured one has resonated with some adults once we told them to ditch the packaging.

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