The Trunk Show

I came up with the idea for my first trunk show when a rep insisted on showing me graphic design books with the hope that I would add multiples of each title to the order. (I wasn’t the inventory manager, but he knew my weakness.) Rather than tie up cash on books that have a definite shelf-life, I said, “Why don’t you send me a few samples and some extra catalogs. Let’s borrow from the fashion industry and have a trunk show.

That’s exactly what happened. I reached out to the membership of our local chapter of American Institute of Graphic Artists in addition to friends from my days at advertising agencies. A discount was offered on all orders placed at the show, and the designers knew they were getting the latest titles.

Trunk shows can have various themes or they can be tied to a specific publisher. One that would be easy to implement with items already in house would be the Book Club Trunk Show. Here’s how to tackle it:

  • Meet with your staff and find out which ARCs they’ve read and feel would be great for book clubs.
  • Create an order form and include all of the titles on the list.
  • Set the date for your show and start promoting. In addition to in-store and community book clubs, promote to the general public as well. You probably are aware of a mere fraction of book clubs that exist in your community.
  • Determine if you’re going to offer an incentive, such as a discount on any books ordered that were presented at the trunk show. (Sometimes a sneak peek at forthcoming titles is enough reward.)
  • Don’t forget to reach out to non-traditional book clubs, like those made up of all men. “Fear not, gentlemen. ‘Literary Affiliations’ are welcome to attend as well.”)
  • Gather some nice give-aways for a few door prizes and place an information-gathering form on each chair to serve as a door-prize entry form.
  • Be prepared to register book clubs in your store, so you can assist in group book orders, provide discussion guides, or present book talks just for their group.
  • Book clubs love SWAG (stuff we all get). If you have access to some, place it near the book club registration table.
  • Also on the book club registration table, provide a flyer listing all of the services your store provides for book clubs.
  • Finally, at the event, the staff gets to do what they love… talk about books! Present each book selected, explain why you love it, give comparables, and tell where to find it on the order form.
  • * After the presentation, remember to give out the door prizes, and then invite guests to peruse the table of ARCs so potential readers can get a closer look before they order.


And that’s it. With ARCs on hand, a staff of excited readers, some promotion and a little planning, a trunk show is a fairly easy way to stay relevant to book clubs.

Beth Golay

Beth is a reader, writer, marketer and Books & Whatnot founder. Even though she knows better, she's a sucker for a good book cover and will positively swoon if a book is set in appropriate type. @BethGolay