Costco Plans to Stop Selling Books Year-Round

Costco Plans to Stop Selling Books Year-Round

In a blow to publishers and authors, Costco plans to stop selling books regularly at stores around the United States, four publishing executives who had been informed of the warehouse retailer’s plans said on Wednesday.

Beginning in January 2025, the company will stop stocking books regularly, and will instead sell them only during the holiday shopping period, from September through December. During the rest of the year, some books may be sold at Costco stores from time to time, but not in a consistent manner, according to the executives, who spoke anonymously in order to discuss a confidential business matter that has not yet been publicly announced.

Costco’s shift away from books came largely because of the labor required to stock books, the executives said. Copies have to be laid out by hand, rather than just rolled out on a pallet as other products often are at Costco. 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.

A Costco representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

The decision could be a significant setback for publishers at a moment when the industry is facing stagnant print sales and publishing houses are struggling to find ways to reach customers who have migrated online.

While Costco isn’t as critical a retail outlet as bookstore chains like Barnes & Noble, it has provided a way for people who might not otherwise seek out books to see them and perhaps grab a new thriller or a cookbook while shopping for socks and paper towels. Shoppers could also browse books at Costco in a way that is difficult to do online.

“It’s an easy place to just grab the latest in a series you’re reading or pick up a book for your kid,” Brenna Connor, the director of U.S. Books at Circana, a market research firm, said of big box stores like Costco or Target. “They are important for the book market overall.”

The retailer’s impact also comes from the size of its orders. As with tubs of hummus or camping chairs, when Costco decided to stock a book, it often went big, ordering tens of thousands of copies at a minimum. For major blockbusters, they might stock hundreds of thousands of copies of a single title.

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