Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Higher Risk for Authors and Booksellers? Where Do We Sign Up?

Oz and Ends runs the numbers on the non-returnable, profit-sharing publishing model that Harper is trying out. I think I agree about the profit-sharing being a very dubious deal for authors.

But non-returnability... I think it may possible to construct shared-markdown and remainder-in-place policies that make sense for booksellers. I'm not sure I've seen any yet, but I'm not ready to throw the idea out entirely... yet.

I haven't seen the details of Harper's new venture, but my hopes aren't real high. People in the position to make big decisions at publishers don't often seem to have many friends who are authors or booksellers. Now wouldn't that be nice? To have a colleague on the other side of the fence that you could knock the numbers around with before you make decisions that may or may not piss them and all their counterparts off? Yeah, I'm crazy.


Literaticat said...

If i have no option to return, I can't imagine buying. Unless the discount is very steep?

Booksellers = old dogs. But I will reserve judgement.

Christine Tripp said...

This is ridiculous! Are they only speaking of novel authors or are they implying that a Pic book author and illustrator would go for such an idea? To work with this publisher is a dream but... I can't imagine any artist willing to work for nothing for half a year or more, then perhaps wait 2 more years till the book comes out, then wait another year for the first payment on sales to come in... and what if the book launch is scratched. What if, for some reason not to do with the creators, the book is shelved? What then, sorry, too bad, no money for you!

Hope Vestergaard said...

If all the publishers went to the no return option, booksellers would buy differently, but they'd still buy, right? How do you think buying habits might change? Would some books get no chance at all? Or would indies regain some market share when people begin to appreciate their more discriminating (i.e. less lower-common-denominator) selections? This is an interesting puzzle. I admit I know very little about returns other than the numbers on my own statements.

Anonymous said...

Actually, books were once all sold by publishers as non-returnable, and it wasn't until the depression era or thereabouts that publishers came up with what is basically a consignment model for booksellers. But before that time, nonreturnable bookselling worked just fine.

And these days many accounts buy books on a nonreturnable basis, often at very high discounts, but still: tens of thousands of copies that never come back to the warehouse and the sale of which help bring certain books into the black.

Nonetheless, hard to imagine rolling back to olden days in these days of superstores with ginormous in-store inventories. Stores wouldn't be able to have so much stock on hand and it would change utterly the bookstore landscape.

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