While several booksellers around the country report that they have been selling books to people browsing window displays and then calling the store to place an order, Cover to Cover Children's Books in Columbus, Ohio, has gone one step further. On March 28, the store set up a window display of activity, puzzle, and game books along with a sign inviting customers to “shop this window online” using their cell phones.
Customers who scan the QR code on the sign with their phone’s camera are taken to an area on the bookstore’s website where each item in the window display is described along with their prices. The customer can order any number of books, and can even order books in the store’s inventory that are not included in the window displays for a one-stop shopping experience.
“We just wanted to make it as easy as we could for customers,” said Bryan Loar, the store’s general manager. “We’re in a residential area and we saw lots of people peeking into our windows. Our windows give a shortcut from the physical to the digital world, making it easy for customers to buy merchandise they see in person. This has also been a great driver of sales for those books and other books, because it’s spurring people to look for other books while they’re at it.”
The top selling title in the display to date is Search and Find Unicorns by Georgie Taylor, illustrated by Maaike Boot (Water Painting Search and Find, Mar.); it is also one of the store’s bestsellers, outperforming, Loar said, the majority of the store’s inventory. There has been a 300% increase over last month in sales of a backlist title, Sticks and Stones: A Kid’s Guide to Building and Exploring in the Great Outdoors by Melissa Lennig (Quarry Books, 2019).
Other titles that are proving to be popular with window browsers include: Draw, Color, and Sticker Enchanted Sketchbook by local illustrator Suzy Ultman (Crestline Books, 2019); Streams and Ponds: My Nature Sticker Activity Book by Olivia Cosneau (Princeton Architectural Press, Mar.); and Inventive Animals: My Nature Sticker Activity Book by Clementine Sourdais (Princeton Architectural Press, Mar.).
Cover to Cover, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, intends to update its window display next week with Easter-themed books.