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Why is Costco going to stop selling books at its stores and when?

Costco will no longer sell books in its stores, with the news confirmed by several of the company’s publishing executives.

Costco won’t be open for Memorial Day

Costco will stop selling books as of January 2025. According to a BBC News report, book sales in retail stores and supermarkets, such as Costco and Target, represent only 4% of the market. Nonetheless, the news signifies a considerable change for the publishing industry.

Although the chain has not commented on the matter, the information was confirmed by four different publishing executives of the company to the New York Times... but what is the reason for this decision and how will we be able to get books at Costco from now on?

Why will Costco stop selling books in its stores?

According to executives, the change is nothing more than a transformation of its publishing strategy, as the company requires a considerable amount of labor to keep books on the shelves. As a result, starting in January 2025, books will only be available during the last four months of the year, which is the period when book sales rise due to the Christmas gift-giving season.

While this will contribute to a slight change in the consumption trend of shoppers, it is not a new measure, as Costco had already stopped selling books in stores in Hawaii and Alaska since 2022.

Change in strategy ‘not a good thing’ for readers

Although book sales at Costco represent only a small fraction of sales in the overall market, Thad McIlroy, author and publishing industry analyst, explains for USA Today that the change in strategy “is not a good thing” for readers. This is because there are people who “just aren’t bookstore-goers,” so coming across a good book at Costco was the only contact they had with this world.

“It was sort of a point of pride within the industry, that books are not just elitist, books had a really solid mass market play,” publishing industry analyst and author Thad McIlroy said. “It really meant a lot to the industry that Costco was a strong outlet, and to have it turned into just Christmas gifts, that’s not a good thing.”

(Some people are) just not bookstore people. They don’t buy books on Amazon. So I think there’s a significant group of people who find their reading enjoyment via Costco, and that’s going to be much diminished,” he said.