Welcome to Meet Your Fellow Penguins, our new blog series highlighting success stories, tips and tricks, and more from our Penguin Random House reps across the country. Western Ohio and Michigan rep, Sandra Bieber, delves into her history as a rep, her favorite PRH titles, and more!
How long have you been a rep?
12 years in this territory and previously I worked for a large group in the Southeast and my territory was Alabama for 8 years.
What is your favorite category to sell?
I think I sell across the board but I’d say my bestselling titles are How to Babysit a Grandma (978-0-385-75384-5) and Grandpa (978-0-375-86713-2), Sister Pie (978-0-399-57976-9), Mini Bar (978-0-525-57269-5), and Where’s the Unicorn (978-1-5362-0696-8). I am loving the Richard Scarry I Am a Bunny (978-0-375-82778-5) for Easter and spring.
Highlights has been really strong! I consistently sell Mad Libs and Dr. Seuss has been really strong because of that cute display! I still consistently sell Wreck this Journal (978-0-399-17191-8) and Start Where You Are (978-0-399-17482-7). My top hardcovers right now are Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish (978-1-5247-4154-9) and Don’t Let Them Disappear (978-0-525-51432-9)
I’m also making a push to do 52 Lists, Do One Thing a Day, and Q&A a day.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?
It changes so much! You think you know what you’re doing and then all of a sudden there’s another area that you can sell into, so I consistently go after a different type of account every year.
Get as many displays and as much product into your account as possible because you have all of the stuff they’re going to want if you have the Penguin Random House line!
What’s your favorite resource to use while selling?
I use varied resources. I use catalogs, samples, and Edelweiss all in front of the customer. You really have to make people feel comfortable with a new title.
What are your go-to books for an easy sell-in?
Let’s go through this in ages. Ages 0-3, I would take in Good Night Michigan (978-1-60219-054-2) and How to Babysit a Grandma (978-0-385-75384-5) and Grandpa (978-0-375-86713-2). Ages 3-5 I would do Where’s the Astronaut (978-1-5362-0752-1) and Where’s the Unicorn (978-1-5362-0696-8). After that, Mad Libs – I’d talk about getting a Mad Libs display in there. For 8-12 I would do the Highlights Hidden Pictures or Just Joking or Weird But True.
For some best girlfriend gifts, I’d try Start Where You Are (978-0-399-17482-7) or 52 Lists (978-1-63217-034-7). Or I’d tell them to take in Mini Bar (978-0-525-57269-5)! I really like to show the Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts as well (978-1-60774-832-8).
For cooking, everyone here knows Sister Pie (978-0-399-57976-9) – that’s what I’m selling. People love SkinnyTaste, too (978-0-385-34562-0). I don’t have to actually even carry that in [to the store], I just have to say SkinnyTaste or Food 52!
I’ve been talking to everyone about the Illuminated Tarot (978-0-451-49683-6) and if they don’t want to do the tarot or oracle stuff I do the Life Loves You Cards (978-1-4019-4894-8) or I Can Do It Cards (978-1-4019-0052-6).
I do a lot of tailoring to each different store. You have to walk in the store and see what fits. If they’re selling [cheese] boards, they should get On Boards (978-0-14-753114-8) or if they’re selling bowls, get the Queso (978-0-399-57951-6) or the Mac + Cheese (978-1-60774-466-5) cookbooks.
What tip would you offer to a new rep?
Get every single toy store and get as many displays as you can get in there to build that business for ages 0-12. We are so strong on our displays right now. People love the 840 rack, the A-Frame, Mad Libs, Little Golden Books, and Highlights. And the new Seuss display is great! Get as much retail space as possible in these stores through our displays.
What’s a new account you’re excited about?
Rail + Anchor in Royal Oak, MI. They put books in every section and try to tie in a book with every theme or category they’re trying to do. There’s a lot of opportunity for lots of different books.
https://www.railandanchor.com/ (They have unbelievable cross merchandising displays!!)
Share a success story with us!
The Mackinaw State Park is probably my biggest success. 12 years ago they were only doing $500 a year and now they’re doing $9,000!
Interested in being highlighted next in this series? Reach out to us or nominate a colleague you would like to hear from and know others would benefit from! We’ll be touching base with reps who go above and beyond for future installments.