Nice Plug in Times-Colonist; SFU and returnability

Great publicity for Book Marketing DeMystified and Agio Publishing House in the Victoria Times-Colonist. See this link:

http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/business/story.html?id=276b48c8-d990-436a-a3a4-c161e1c21073&k=43026

Thanks to reporter Carla Wilson and photographer Debra Brash. And to editor Darron Kloster.

It was fun presenting to the Masters in Publishing class at Simon Fraser University yesterday. They sure have a moving target to study with the book industry in so much flux. For example, is it even a “book” industry anymore? I challenged them to think about selling “content” which could be sold as a hardcover book, softcover book, audio book, eBook, articles, presentations … and the “sale” might be a rental or a collaboration with an online site, such as Google, where individual pages are shown to visitors with Google and the publisher spitting the ad revenues.

Are audio books even “books” anymore when they are more like radio plays (podiobooks.com)? What about stories sold and viewed on mobile phones — which is a $90-million-plus business in Japan — are those “book” sales?

The topic of returnable books can up briefly in my presentation and then again in the following presentation by Jim Allen of Raincoast Books. No one seems to particularly LIKE this bizarre practice of “selling” books on a consignment basis, but there is so much inertia within the industry that it may just take a push from some outside forces (such as environmental groups) to tip the balance in favour of change soon. We discussed some ideas for a brighter future after the inevitable change to firm sales, specifically to address the question about how to help new fiction and poetry which is seen by booksellers as quite “risky”. One suggestion was using the Dutch model for having a more attractive (to booksellers) discount rate for a brand new title during its initial release period, and then the standard terms after say two months.

Right now booksellers typically get 40% discount off a new book, on a returnable basis. Perhaps after the industry-wide change to firm-sales-net-60-days basis, the bookstore would get 50% off during the title’s launch period, then 45% off for subsequent purchases. If a bookstore is barely breaking even at 40% discount, the owners should be VERY excited about buying at 50% off, and making a real profit. Or so the thinking goes.

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