Scents and Sales

I recently read that researchers in Belgium have discovered that the enticing aroma of chocolate inspired bookstore shoppers to stick around longer. These researchers found that shoppers were more likely to engage in leisurely browsing and ultimately purchased more books when the store was infused with the scent of chocolate.


Scientists have long known that smell is deeply connected to our emotional state and influences our behavior in surprising ways. Scents can have positive effects on mood, stress reduction, sleep enhancement, self-confidence, and physical and cognitive performance. This particular study shows that scents can even effect our shopping behavior.

The Belgium chocolate aroma study prompted the researchers to advise retailers that they can make use of pleasant ambient scents to improve a store’s environment, leading consumers to explore the store, and ultimately buy more books.

While you may not be a retailer, if you do in-person events—author book signings, author speaking engagements, trade show booths—then this study holds meaning for you. You, too, can make use of pleasant scents in and around your booth or book selling or signing tables to encourage customers to linger, bringing you more book sales.

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Trade Show Business

Book Expo America (BEA) is the largest trade show the book business hosts. It is a general book show that includes secular and Christian titles. Famous people (and not so famous people) come to BEA to sign their latest titles.

The International Christian Retail Show (ICRS), held later this month, is a similar trade show to BEA, except that it is a niche show just for the Christian market. As such, it is smaller than BEA.

If you have never attended either BEA or ICRS, watch this recent video shot at BEA this year to get a small glimpse of what a book trade show is like.

Many authors I talk to balk as giving out free books at a trade show. Yet, you will see from this video that it is the usual form of business at such shows. While not every author at BEA gives away free books, giving away something to promote a book is usual and customary. You will see in this video that instead of giving away free copies of her new cookbook, Paula Dean gave away signed copies of a recipe from her new book.

Remember, good marketing usually costs money, but if you want to do it well and save money, that takes great creativity.

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