I get asked this question all the time. Unfortunately many authors who ask me this question have already published their books and if they weren’t published correctly I must tell them to cross Barnes & Noble off their list and focus on online sales. If you haven’t published your book yet, make sure you set it up right to meet the following Barnes & Noble guidelines:

1. Comply with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

If your book is distributed by Ingram Book Group, you already comply with this Act. If your book is printed through a vanity publisher (aka: self-publishing services company) or traditionally published, you do not need to worry about this step. If you offset printed your books yourself (especially in China) and store them in a spare bedroom in your house, you do need to worry about complying with the CPSIA.

2. Get an ISBN

The International Standard Book Number is the way any retailer tracks sales for your title. Without it, your book will not be accepted. ISBNs are furnished by the ISBN Agency. Note that if another publisher assigns an ISBN to your book, you may not have any control over the other requirements to get into Barnes and Noble.

3. Get a Barcode

The ISBN is only the number. You must also have a scannable barcode that embeds the number for point-of-sale systems. Most professional book designers who would handle your book’s cover design would have access to these barcodes at no cost to you.

4. Choose Perfect Binding

“Perfect binding” is the term used for a standard paperback book with printing on the spine. Barnes and Noble likes this type of book because it doesn’t disappear so easily on the shelf, thus increasing the chances of it being sold.

5. List Your Book with a Wholesaler

A wholesaler like Ingram Book Group is the only way to get your book stocked in large retailers like Barnes and Noble.

6. Give the Right Discount

Wholesalers (the only gate in to Barnes and Noble) expect a 55% discount. Make sure your book meets those guidelines.

7. Make Your Book Returnable

Bookstores refuse to carry books that are non-returnable. I recommend you allow the books to be returned to you, the author, so you can resell them at a later date. Most vanity publishers do not accept returns and many will charge a hefty fee to the author who wishes their books to be returnable.

8. Choose Competitive Pricing

Know what books are selling for in your genre and specialty. Price your book competitively. Note also many vanity publishers may say you have the final say in the pricing of your book, but they expect a large cut of the profits (at least $4-6 per book). Due to their markup, most “self-published” books are not competitively priced.

9. Have a Marketing Plan

That’s right, if you’re expecting Barnes and Noble to stock your book in every single one of its stores, you’d better have a killer marketing and publicity plan to show them. Which, no matter what way you publish, you should have anyway.

10. Get Trade Reviews

The more “big” names you can get to positively review your book, the better. And don’t forget to get those reviews placed on your website and Amazon listing.

11. Send Your Book!

Barnes and Noble’s buying representatives are interested if your book meets all the above guidelines. If you feel your book is a good candidate for distribution throughout their stores, send a copy along with your marketing plan, a note about what makes your book unique and any positive reviews to:

The Small Press Department
Barnes & Noble, Inc.
122 Fifth Ave
New York, NY 10011

Have you gotten your book in a major bookstore? Share a success tip below!

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy Laidig is the founder of The Book Ninja. She has authored over 40 books, started over 50 publishing companies, trained over 10,000 authors worldwide, has her black belt in karate, and eats way too much chocolate. She currently changes lives through her students… one published message at a time, manages her two retail stores Toy Box Gifts & Wonder® and Nerdvana Outpost in the heart of her newfound hometown, Chambersburg, PA, is in the start-up phase of at least three new businesses at any given time, and generally causes anyone reading this bio to be out of breath. On her “off” time (what’s that?) she brainstorms business ideas with her awesome husband, the great Public Domain Expert himself, Tony Laidig, and hangs out with her two ragdoll kitties. She’s even been known to sleep... occasionally.


  • […] you’ve published your book with proper settings to meet retailers’ requirements, such as Barnes and Noble, you probably set your wholesale discount to 55%. When you do this, not only does it meet their […]

  • Chantilly F. says:

    Kristen I wrote 3 books so far in all independently using Creatspace, and I have sold some on my own already by doing my own personal advertising. My problem is trying to get a book signing where I live, because the little bookstores out here immediately shoot you down if your a self publish Author. What can I do there’s no Barnes and Noble where I live, but my books are on BarnesandNoble.com, Amazon.com, Ebay.com, and i’m registered with Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and Bowker? Hope you can help thanks.
    Two books Non-Fiction true story  My Life, My Pain No One Heard My Cry
    2nd. Series As My Life Continues
    3rd. book Santa Claus Feeling Down

    • Chantilly – Unfortunately though CreateSpace offers an “expanded distribution” option, it is a huge myth that the option will give you access to brick and mortar stores. Using CS has some advantages, but many drawbacks, including store book signings. They do not meet half of the requirements listed above, which is part of why you’re having trouble. B&N’s requirements are pretty much the same for every bookstore, even the little indies.

  • Hello Kristen. I am currently typing up a book. I want to get it published and be sold in stores like Barnes & Noble. My question is is that I am only 15 so should i wait to present my book to a publishing company, or do it as soon as i feel i am ready. I am currently revising it for the second time. 

  • Ianscottpaterson says:

    Could you go into more detail on the marketing plan? Do you mean a press kit? Or an itemized spreadsheet with graphs and sales projections? What does the industry standard “marketing plan” for, say, a novel look like?

    • There is no “industry standard” for a marketing plan. I highly recommend you check out John Kremer’s book, 1001 Ways to Market Your Book. It’s full of resources and guidelines to get started.

    • There is no “industry standard” for a marketing plan. I highly recommend
      you check out John Kremer’s book, 1001 Ways to Market Your Book. It’s
      full of resources and guidelines to get started.

  • Neill Neill says:

    Hi Kristen,

    Like Karen, I am in Barnes & Noble (and Amazon). In my case I got in via Lightning Source. I know lightning source sold 44 books in June, but I don’t know how to tell how many were sold by Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or anyone else.

    I did some testing and found that my book (“Living with a Functioning Alcoholic: A Woman’s Survival Guide”) doesn’t sell in stores, but people will order it online.
    I also put my book on Kindle, but Nook (Barnes & Noble) will not accept a title from anyone who lives outside of the United States. That was a disappointment, because I live in Canada.

    Navigating the publishing maze is quite an adventure! Keep up the good work.Like Karen,I am in Barnes & NobleLike you Karen I am in my is unknowable

    • Karen says:

      Like you, I want to know where and how my books are selling! Have you asked Lightning Source for a more detailed print out? Apparently, they don’t like to do them.

      Are your eBooks set up through Book Baby? That’s how Kristen set me up and they sell through multiple sources, all the ones you mentioned plus a lot I’d never heard of.

      Interestingly, we are paid on eBooks 90 days after the month in which they sell. Seems like, since these books are paid for before they download, the payment system could be faster…. Oh well, just great to have books that are selling, right?

      Congratulations on your success.

  • Karen Rittenhouse says:

    I am in Barnes and Noble and here’s what happened when I asked how I might get my book into their store.

    First comment: (1) your book has to be listed correctly for us to order it.
    The manager pulled up my ISBN and said that, not only was it listed correctly (as many self-published books apparently are not) but that my printer, the one Kristen set me up with, accepts returns which makes ordering even easier for bookstores.
    (2) to do a book signing, we must order your books and create marketing materials. Allow about a month for that process.
    I had 3 books signings in one month and sold about 30 books. After that, National placed a small order as well so I am in multiple local stores. I was told that, because I sold so many at the signings, they will let me have a book signing anytime I want!


    •  Awesome Karen! You’re an example how setting up your book correctly to meet their guidelines and persevering to get people in the stores buying the books can pay off big time. 🙂 A little note – 30 books may not seem like a lot, but to the big box bookstores, if you sell just 6 – SIX! – books, you’ve “arrived” and they’ll love you for it!

  • Karen Rittenhouse says:

    Phil – What I know for sure is, you can get into B&N.

    Kristen – I went across to B&N yesterday after our meeting and
    was shocked to see my Selling Books there on the shelves! No Buying ones
    there, however. VERY interesting!

  • Karen says:

    Phil – What I know for sure is, you can get into B&N.

    Kristen – I went across to B&N yesterday after our meeting and was shocked to see my Selling Books there on the shelves! No Buying ones there, however. VERY interesting!

  • […] From Kristen Eckstein: How to get your book into Barnes and Noble […]

  • Phil – it depends on the store. Some CRMs are too “busy” to be bothered with local authors. Others welcome authors with open arms and bend over backward to accommodate them. Thus is the nature of the book industry.

  • Phil Simon says:

    B&N is weird. I went into my local one and brought a copy. The CRM said that “corporate” decides this. This may nor or may not be true.

    There are obviously no guarantees.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kristen Eckstein, AndreaCinnamond. AndreaCinnamond said: RT @imaginestudios: From Imagine! Studios: How to Get Your Book in Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/gUHANs […]

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