As has been widely known in the industry for some time, Costco is pulling back on selling books and is now rumored to only be committed to stocking them during the holiday sales period, from September to December.

Earlier this year, HarperCollins CFO Susan Panuccio told analysts in a conference call that trade sales had been hurt by softer than expected sales at such mass merchandisers as Walmart and Costco. This echoes similar reports from publishers across North America that have become increasingly commonplace in recent years. In Canada, where Costco was once the second leading physical retailer of books behind the bookstore chain Indigo, Costco has been pulling back significantly, according to publishers.

Now, according to reporting from the New York Times, starting in January 2025, the retailer will significantly cut book stock, claiming that selling books is too labor intensive.

“Copies have to be laid out by hand, rather than just rolled out on a pallet as other products often are at Costco,” the Times reported. “The constant turnaround of books—new ones come out every Tuesday and the ones that have not sold need to be returned—also created more work.”

Costco has been a significant book retailer for decades, particularly under the guidance of influential buyer Pennie Clark Ianniciello, who left Costco Media in 2021. Her monthly "Pennie's Pick" had the power to propel books bestseller status and sell thousands of copies.

The book stock at Costco had also long been seen as a means to reach less avid readers, especially time-restricted parents as they were shopping for consumables. Bestselling fiction and book club picks, in particular, were a strong category, as were blockbuster narrative nonfiction hardcovers and cookbooks, all of which were often sold at a steep discount.

Boxed sets of children’s book series were also popular, along with bestsellers such as the Wimpy Kid series and others. During the lead up to the start of the school year, the company was known for offering a wide selection of titles from Workman, including the Big Fat Notebooks series, and at the holidays, piles of pricey DK gift books were a common site.

A search on for books returns just 17 results, all children’s box sets, while during a recent visit to the Costco warehouse in northern Vermont, a popular summer vacation destination, the modest selection of books in stock was all but impossible to find among the towering pallets of portable air conditioners, camping gear, e-bikes, and protein bars.