Friday, November 07, 2008

Buy a Book, Dammit!

Via Nathan Bransford comes this excellent post by Moonrat (now added to my blogroll - "editorialass") about why October is the unkindest month of all in book publishing. It has to do with the unique (some would say "bizarre") returns policy:
The crux of the problem is that book publishing is a returnable industry. That means that say Big Chain Store (BCS) agrees to stock a book that my company publishes. They buy 100 copies at, say, $1 a piece (to be easy). They give me $100; I send them the books. Two months later, they didn't sell any, so they send them back. I have to give them $100.

Keep in mind a couple of things about this system that don't work in the publisher's favor:
1) Shipping costs. Books are heavy.
2) Production fees incurred by the publisher (because, unfortunately, we can't return the books to the printer).
3) Inflation. Haha.
Moonrat suggests that those of us who love books fight back...and buy more books. Buy 'em for your friends and family!

Well, it's not like I need much (any?) encouragement; I'd come home with three new books in my shopping rucksack yesterday before even reading this post. But here's a follow-up suggestion: why not make October "Buy More Books!" month? It's too late for this year, but beginning next year, we could all make it a point to do our holiday shopping early.

Buy a book. The publishing industry you save may be your own.

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