Last month I asked my local game store to order me a copy of Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition. I had read Savage Worlds years ago and wasn't too interested in it, but with the relative popularity it still enjoys and the low price I figured I should give it a second chance.
On the 6th of March, I ordered it. On the 14th, I had a note from my FLGS saying that it was in. I finally got the chance to pick it up on the 29th.
My FLGS has a shelf behind the counter where they display the books and games that have been set aside for pre-orders. In the 15 days from the time he put that book on the shelf, he has taken 3 other orders for the exact same book, all from people who had no idea the book existed. The simple act of stocking one copy -- and it didn't even sit on the New Releases shelf -- exposed it to enough people that they sold 3 more copies.
A few thoughts about this:
- If the book had been on the new releases shelf and I had walked in and picked it up, those sales might not have happened -- the customers that saw my pre-order copy may have never seen this fictional non pre-ordered copy.
- The low price of Savage World Explorer's Edition probably factored into the good conversation rate: Who thinks twice about dropping $11 on a book?
- Providing "display/reader" copies to game stores would be interesting ... but aside from Wizards of the Coast and perhaps White Wolf, I don't think any hobby publisher could afford to do so on a regular basis for a large amount of stores. I think there's probably a way to do it on a limited opt-in basis for the small [50-100] number of stores that would take advantage of such a promotion, but would that help grow sales in any appreciable way?