- Fast Company: good not only for up and coming business books (my store is in an urban business area), but also interesting fiction and fun tie-ins (Pimp My Cubicle, anyone?).
- Publishers Weekly: I can’t order from a magazine until it is a month or two old, but the reviews (and advertisements) give me a great idea of what books will appeal to my customers.
- Bust Magazine: at the end of every issue Bust highlights a number of different titles and authors, titles that are often picked up by other news outlets (all of which jive with the folksy aspect of my town).
- NY Times Book Review: if it shows up there (whether as a reviewed book or an advertised one) we get it into the store.
- The Daily Show or the Colbert Report: if the authors are even half-way coherent about their book, I’ll have someone in for it the next day guaranteed.
- Partners West Distributors: send out a weekly review pamphlet on different topics and the people manning the phones there know their stuff.
- Various magazines (anyone with book clubs, book reviews or copious amounts of book advertisements): Vogue, Vanity Fair, People, Ebony/Essence, Entertainment Weekly, Romantic Times Book Club, etc. Pick and choose, mix and match.
- Anything I’ve heard about online in an excessively positive manner (Monster Island for example)
- Oprah: she is Oprah, ‘nuff said. Anyone who can get a segment of the nation asking me for When God Winks just by having it on her bedside table has a lot of power and I, for one, plan to make as much money of that as I can.
- Customer suggestions: if I’ve heard it from customer and they’re convinced so-in-so is the next big thing, I’ll him/her a try.
I’ll reorder anything that I’ve noticed is selling faster than the company is restocking me, or the paperback version of something that should have sold well in hardcover but didn’t due to the price.
Recently I signed up for Shelf Awareness after an author asked me about and I’ve found that it makes me more aware of certain titles. While it doesn’t necessarily make me go out and order the titles highlighted there right away, it makes me more sensitive to any repetition of these titles by another publication, a customer, or a mention online (whether any of this ordering subscribes to the magically selling theory of three, I don’t know).
I have coworkers who spend their unpaid time looking online for upcoming titles in the genres they love, and others that check out the catalogs sent to us by the different publishing companies. Our only requirement is that it has to be something that our customers might be interested or something we think we can hand-sell (thus talking them into something that might not know they wanted). Nothing glamorous to it, just a lot of reading.