I’ve been gathering links in a draft, and thought I’d post ’em up.

One of the big stories in bookworld at the mo is HarperCollins’ newest initiative to move more money and attention to internet marketing and sales, to move to a profit-sharing rather than a advance-royalty author-payment structure, and to stop accepting returns from retail stores. This will only be happening in one, new imprint for now. I am curious to see whether it will work. As a potential long-term bookseller, I think the future of the bookstore lies in either ebooks or POD or both, and I wonder where this will fit in. Also, as the person in charge of returns to the publisher, I have to say I welcome a model in which we could cut most of that out, as long as it doesn’t mess up the store’s finances. They’re time-consuming and freight gets more expensive every month, cutting into whatever credit we do get for the books. (For those who don’t know, bookstores can send books back to the publisher, within certain time parameters, and receive a certain amount of credit towards future purchases for the return. For example, my store pretty much always sends back a hardcover when we get in the paperback, and I think that’s pretty standard.)

One potential positive for the consumer here: many people believe that this unfettered return system has been partially responsible for the rapid price increases in books. Chain stores will buy massive quantities of books and put stacks in each store, and then if they don’t sell, send them all back. The publisher has to eat that cost, but you know they’re going to have to make up the difference somewhere–and so mass market PBs go from $5.99 to $7.99 over a short period, and trades go from $12 to $15. I think it would be good, from an economic and environmental perspective, to ween the industry off publisher returns, and I’m not just saying that because I find doing them tedious and mind-numbing. Though I will miss the credit memos. It’s like getting a tax return! Many times a year! I often put them on people’s heads, as hats. Come visit me at work and perhaps you too can have a credit memo hat. (But act fast! Who knows how much longer they’ll be around!)

And then a few more articles on the indie v. big box v. bigger boxes phenomenon. One from WaPo, one from the Boise Weekly. Because there’s no better way to end your day than with uplifting thoughts about how now Costco is moving in on your turf even more aggressively, and even super-dedicated book fans do not necessarily know that you exist. Whee!

O, what a depressing end to the post. Here, I’ll link one of my favorite Billy Collins poems so you can go forth with a smile. Don’t forget, it’s National Poetry Month–I will try to post pictures of my poet-tree in a few days.


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