Why do CDs and books get released on Tuesdays?

I guess the title says it all, but I’ll do the repetition thing for the hell of it: Is there any specific reason that new CDs, records, and books come out on Tuesdays? There’s hopefully some genius reason instead of “Teamsters will only make one trip a week.”

According to my friend Trevor, who knows about these things, not all media products are released on Tuesdays. Disney, for example, releases their stuff on Thursdays, and other companies release on other days.

He says it’s tradition, but to some extent, it makes sense for most things to be released on one day of the week. Bookstore and video managers know well in advance when new stuff is coming out and can plan displays accordingly. Thus, if the majority of new media comes out on Tuesday, they can spend Monday working out shelf space and displays without creating too much disruption for the rest of the week.

It’s also a matter of controlling commerce and trying to minimize premature releases. If you have fixed release days, it’s easier to enforce contractual obligations about when things get released.


It also makes sense for the release day to be what it otherwise a less busy day of the week. Nothing like trying to move around the entire store when customers are climbing all over you, so that knocks off Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

And Monday is probably a poor day because it means that too many shipments have to move over Sundays, and Monday is often a holiday.

That leaves the three midweek days. Tuesday gives the retailer the most time to set up for the weekend, and time for word of mouth about arrivals to spread. So why not Tuesdays?

Also, if you have a Monday release date, there’s a chance the shipment could get delayed over the weekend, leading to pissed off customers. It’s much less likely to happen with a Tuesday release, since they’ve got Friday, Saturday, Sunday, AND Monday to deliver.

I should add I’ve never actually noticed a specific “day” that things come out on- stuff arrives in store when it arrives in store, which could be any day of the week.

Exapno Mapcase: that sounds pretty damn reasonably, I must say.
Martini: my (admittedly limited) experience has shown me that maybe 98% CDs & books are slated for Tuesday releases. I’m sure some shipments come late from the printers, or drag ass in the mail, but a release, at least in the US, is almost always scheduled for a Tuesday. As for Disney, I never knew that. If only they hadn’t fallen into levels of egregious suckdom, I might be impressed.

For CDs, and previously for cassettes and LPs, Billboard compiles its sales chart data based on a Tueday-Monday week. Therefore releasing on Tuesday maximizes the number of copies sold in the first week of sales, and gives the highest possible chart position.
Don’ t know if something similar applies to books/DVDs/other media.

This is kind of a chicken before the egg sort of thing, isn’t it? Did Billboard start compiling this based on an industry standard release date or did the industry bend to the charts to maximize their first week sales numbers?

Many book and (especially) music stores, primarily the ones owned independently, are closed Mondays. They tend to be open both days on the weekend & Monday becomes a day of rest. Tuesday is the first day of a new week for a lot of them. I could see this becoming the traditional release day carried over into an era dominated by chain stores.

Good point. My info came from a friend who managed a Music+ record store in the late1980s/early 1990s, which was when SoundScan was introduced. I asked him the same question and he didn’t know. He thought the chart came first, as there seemed to be more frequent “outliers” (non-Tuesday releases) in the pre-Soundscan era. Currently charts are compilied based on actual point-of-sale data. Previously charts were compiled by asking a sample set of retail outlets for their sales info which was admittedly subjective. My friend said on the few occasions when his store was polled, they just gave WAGs.

Whether it’s the chicken or the egg, this would be a very good reason for continuing the practice.

There are some books that come out on Tuesdays, but the overwhelming majority of them have no specific “street date.” Of the ones that do, Tuesday is the most popular day (I just checked the “Street Smart” list for this week from the biggest book distributor in the U.S., and there are 124 books scheduled for Tuesday and 3 scheduled for other days). Some biggies are planned for other days of the week (e.g., Harry Potter), but most books get shipped whenever the publisher finishes with them. The stores close to the publisher have them the next day, and the ones farther out get them a day later.

That 124 books I mentioned for this week represents a tiny precentage of the new releases. That same distributor lists 9,793 new books scheduled for release in the next 30 days–over 90% of which don’t have a specific release date.

Really? I’ve never, ever seen a Book or Music store (independent or otherwise) closed on a Monday. They’re all open 7 days a week around here, or if they’re closed, it’ll be on Sunday.

A lot of stores’ shipments come in Sunday night and Monday, so that gives enough time to unpack the new releases and get them in their displays too.

Actually, I think it all goes back to the magazine distributors’ schedules. Traditionally, the magazine distributors made their deliveries on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Is some cases the deliveries would then be merchandised on Wednesday and Friday. This was originally designed to not interfere with weekend sales and to make sure that all was ready for the weekend. TV Guide used to be a driving force in the newsstand magazine business and insisted on specific delivery dates. Their merchandisers had to have the copies in the stores so that they could do the detailing. Other publishers followed along.

The magazine distibutors, in many cases, became the distribution agent for books and videos. Therefore, those businesses fell into the same distribution schedule. There was a certain logic to it so it made sense to set the release dates for a Tuesday or a Thursday.