Peter Atwood on sun 20 dec 98
I've been following the thread on local bookstores versus
Amazon.com and several thoughts have come to mind. First,
I have to say that I am in a unique position among you
because my girlfriend is a small press publisher, so I have
had a lot of insights into the world of publishing and
marketing books. Did you know that all the books that you
see on the shelves of your local bookstore are there on
consignment? I'm not talking about the Potter's Shop or
your local clay store. Those folks may be buying most of their
stock outright because they deal with a lot of small presses.
But the majority of bookstores have all their books on
consignment with the arrangement that they can send them back
to Ingram or Baker and Taylor anytime they want if they
think that they are not selling. They don't care if the
books are damaged, the publisher has to eat them! And the
terms make potteryseem like easy street! Try giving your
local gallery 55
percent and taking home 45 (for those who grumble about
50-50 or 60-40 cuts). Publishing is a truly sucky business
in many ways.
I agree with some of the posts saying that we should
patronize our local stores and specialty shops. It is wrong
to leaf through a book and then go home and order it online
as a routine thing. However, I think people need to make it
a judgement call. If your local bookstore is Barnes and Noble
then by all means, order your book from Amazon!!!!! For
those who don't know, Barnes and Noble is the biggest
bookseller in America with controlling interest in 75 percent
of the bookstores in the country. They are increasingly
controlling what books are getting published because they
are the ones who allow the books to get into the channels
or not. If you, as a potter who wants to write a book on
extruders, want to get your book into the bookstores and
you are going to self publish it with a price tag of $29.95
you will have to submit it to Barnes and Nobles small
press division for evaluation. If and when you receive a reply
from these jerks you may find that they have decided that
they can't stock your book for one reason or another. Usually
the excuse is that they don't think they can sell enough
to make it worthwhile or there may be a competing work from
a mainstream publisher who they would much rather deal with.
What this means is that you and your book are now effectively
shut out of most of the bookstores in America.
Interestingly, Borders Booksellers, another large chain
will carry small press books and will order directly from the publisher.
Why am I emphasizing
this self publish thing? Because if you took your book on
extruding to a regular publisher you are not going to get
squat for it! The publisher will give you maybe a dollar per
copy on a 20 dollar book. If you self publish you'll get maybe
9 dollars per copy on that 20 dollar book but you'll have
trouble getting it into the channels so that it can reach
that broad audience. This is where the danger of these giant
The bottom line is this. Order some books online from Amazon
if you wish to save money. They order from small presses and
they are Barnes and Nobles biggest thorn in the side.
Order lots of books also from your favorite local bookshop
or Potters Bookstore. They need your business.
Balance the two and watch out for censurous mega companies.
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