Selling Books at Barnes and Noble

Search engine optimization and marketing efforts for small businesses and very small businesses can include extraordinary measures. For professionals in competitive fields, differentiation from the competition is of paramount importance. We now live in a world where leaders stand out and others are left out of the ability to market themselves beyond bare subsistence. This is not a temporary condition, but it is a reflection of the world we live in today. Economic conditions are increasingly competitive, and according to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and others, publishing and promoting books in your field that really stand out are the most incredible way to market your product, services, and website all at once. Only the best will succeed, but success in this promises to bring you more hits from qualified leads than any other method of promotion except brilliant television and newspaper advertisement at outrageous expense. The best part about authoring and publishing in your field is that as a marketing effort, it pays for itself when done correctly. Your business will enjoy more clients, and your prices can be higher. The standard accepted economic principles of supply and demand will deem it possible, in fact necessary, for your business to raise prices.

This article will be the first in a series of articles explaining publishing in the United States.

To begin, we will start with the major retail outlets in the US. Getting listed in these retail outlets is the eventual goal, and it is now possible to self-publish and meet the requirements of these retail outlets. Of course if you have something very groundbreaking, you can count on the major publishing houses to take your book immediately, but most small businesses and first-time authors can choose to initially self-publish and market their own books. This article is geared towards small businesses in this position.

To sell your books at retail through Barnes and Noble, new authors they have a variety of requirements that have to be met in order to have books included in their catalog. The steps include:

  • Obtain an ISBN Number assigned to each book to be sold.

  • Filling out the vendor sign up form in strict accordance with the directions.

  • Prepare a List of Titles.

  • Barnes and Noble will review your List of Titles.

  • Upon approval of your titles:

  • Barnes and Noble will make an initial purchase of two books. They advise submitters not to ship the books until they receive an official purchase order.

  • At this point, you will progress to becoming a Vendor of Record for the Barnes and Noble Warehouse.

  • Once you are a Vendor of Record, your book(s) will be listed at for sale. The initial demand for your book(s) will determine how many they will order and keep in stock.

  • To get the best retail exposure from your book, the next step is to apply for book placement in their retail stores. The requirements include:

  • Unless you have the renown of J. K. Rowling and are proposing a book with the popularity of the Harry Potter series or the Bible, complete all of the above steps first to have the book listed online, and then ensure that there is a great demand. Engage only in ethical marketing tactics you would be willing to share with others. Barnes and Noble pays attention to how books are marketed, and the ethics of your marketing plan as well as its effectiveness will determine your success with them.

  • Submit a copy of the Book. Barnes and Noble will not accept manuscripts.

  • Submit Marketing Plans.

  • Submit Promotion Plans. It is a good idea to include plans for book signing sessions and/or lectures to promote your book. Consult for a list of Lecture Agents who can help schedule you.

  • Submit a list of trade reviews of your book along with citations for them to verify.

  • Submit a Cover Letter with all of the above. This cover letter should cover:

  • Your statement of intent to apply for placement in their retail locations.

  • Acclaim for book.

  • What is unique about the book?

  • Authors and Publishers outside the United States should indicate their representatives in the United States.

  • Brief list of included items in the package.

  • Cover Letter should be one page long.

  • Send the Book, Marketing Plans, Promotion Plans, List of Reviews, and Cover Letter to:

The Small Press Department

Barnes & Noble, Inc.

122 Fifth Ave

New York, NY 10011

  • The packaging should be neat and attractive. Remember you are selling your book to a major retail chain. The cover letter should be the first item seen by the recipient when the package is opened. Attaching a cover letter on the outside of the box in an envelope is advisable. Another cover letter copy should be inside. Barnes and Noble is a large company They receive many packages, and have a shipping and receiving department that is used to having packing slips in a standardized format on the outside of every box in the proper plastic sleeve and stamped “Packing Slip” in large block capital letters on the outside.

According to the Barnes and Noble Vendor Sign Up Form available at:, you need to complete the following in order to finish and submit the form:

  • A completed, signed copy of pages 4 through 6 of the attached Barnes & Noble Distribution Center Confirmation of Publisher Information form. Please retain a copy of the application for your records.

  • A finished sample of your title(s) – Please see attached list of Acceptable and Unacceptable Products. No manuscripts please.

  • A title list presented in the format outlined in the “Title Information” section (please see page 5) on a copy of your company’s letterhead.

  • A list of wholesalers/distributors you currently utilize.

  • Trade Reviews.

  • Marketing/Promotional plans.

  • A note describing how your book meets the competition (what makes it unique.)

After a review of your title list, should we decide to purchase your title(s), we will place an initial stocking order for for each eligible title that you carry. Customer demand will be used to determine the proper stocking level and quantities for subsequent orders. For a title to be eligible, it must meet the following criteria:

  • It must have an assigned ISBN-13 printed on the cover along with the Book and EAN barcode featuring the price-encoding add-on portion, and a human-readable price.

  • The retail price must be greater than $1.00.

  • It must have a hardcover or paperback binding.

  • Cannot be ring-bound, staple-bound, spiral-bound.

  • Must have title printed on spine.

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