Wednesday, June 20

Publishers Over a Barrel - That's Got to Hurt!

First Edition Books - Book Promotion Costs an Arm and a Leg

Not first edition books but interesting nevertheless. (I've been away).

Bookshops apparently charge publishers for promoting their books. Why don't the publishers refuse? Well because they can't basically. Bookshops (inc. supermarket chains) have a monopoly on selling books.

Did you think bookshops promoted books in their storefronts out of the goodness of their hearts or because they liked the book ? Well, so did I. But apparently it ain’t so - full article by Nigel Reynolds here Telegraph

Waterstone's has admitted that it sometimes "asks" for £45,000 ($90,000) from publishers to promote books in its stores. They deny however that the money influences their decisions about which titles to recommend to buyers. Hmmm do I detect some Alice in Wonderland logic at work here ?

Allegedly a document has been leaked sent by Waterstone’s to UK publishers in which it allegedly gives a range of rates it is requesting in exchange for heavy promotion in the weeks and months leading up to Christmas, something to do with joining in the Christmas spirit I believe. Who leaked the document and to whom is what we would really like to know! And did they get a fee? (Perish the thought).

How much would it cost, allegedly? Well, £45,000 ($90,000) per title it appears. According to the document, Waterstone's would place six titles in ‘windows, front-of-house displays and in a national advertising campaign.’

If you can’t afford £45,000 then shame on you, but there is special rate of £25,000 ($50,000), for which the chain will allegedly feature a title in a front-of-store bay as a "gift book", and at tills. Still too much ? Then for £17,000 ($34,000), a book would be displayed as one of two "offers of the week" for one week in the run-up to Christmas.

Still too much !? Then for a mere £7,000 ($14,000) allegedly, they will ensure a book is promoted as a ‘Paperback of the Year’ and be included in newspaper ads., while for a veritable Scrooge-like £500 ($1,000) (who are these cheapskates ?) a book would be included in Waterstone's Christmas gift guide, along with a bookseller review.

Readers, like myself, whiling away their time in their ivory towers, may have liked to believe that titles were recommended based on a retailer's judgement (I did). It appears, however, that such practices are allegedly standard throughout the book industry. One supermarket chain is apparently studying the possibility of charging publishers just for the right to have a book on its shelves. So the publisher has to pay to sell its books at supermarket prices, which are well-known to be extremely low. They could also charge customers for the right to walk through the door like they do at car boot sales!

Is there any profit in all this ? I guess there must be. But it just goes to show that without exposure, one is stuffed don't you know! Why don’t publishers open their own bookshops in which they could also sell vegetables? Who knows? Certainly not I (any book publishers reading this please note there is a £25,000 consultancy fee for that piece of advice).

How can they get away with it you may ask ? Well, by blackmail basically. According to the Chairman of Quercus Books, Anthony Cheetham, if you say 'no' the retailer drops its order from 1,000 copies down to 20 ! Looks like they’ve got the publishers over a barrel to me. If I were a publisher I would join forces with other publishers and set up direct-sales online bookstores pretty quick (any book publishers reading this please note there is a £50,000 consultancy fee for that piece of advice).

Waterstone's denied however that they have been selling favours. According to a spokesman its "recommended titles” are picked by its own "experts" and only thereafter were publishers asked to “make a contribution” to the cost of promotion. How could they refuse such a generous offer?

The company stated: "A publisher cannot buy a promotional slot at Waterstone's”, allegedly.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tips are always welcome !