Friday, April 01, 2011

What booksellers want from publishers…

Former Publisher Now Bookseller Joan McKenzie hits back
31 Mar 2011 - The Read -  Booksellers New Zealand
A seminar session with all the bracing qualities of an icy shower was what participants in a Publishers Training Seminar from PaperPlus’ Joan Mackenzie received on a Saturday morning earlier this month.

“First I took them through the current world situation regarding bookshops,” Joan told The Read. “That Waterstones in the UK are shaky and that Borders UK was gone... and that Borders in the US was also likely to fail.

These were all dedicated booksellers, and the fact that publishers control both RRPs and book retailer margins was an important factor in why they can’t survive.

“In our part of the world Angus & Robertson and Whitcoulls are also in difficulties that have put them into voluntary administration. Angus & Robertson stores, along with Borders, sell books only and that’s really hard. Whitcoulls, because they are more diversified and sell other products, can manage margins across a wider product base.
“I felt they (publishers) needed to know this,” Joan told The Read.
Some publishers also handicapped retailer profit margins in the recent GST increase to 15 percent debacle, where they made a point of saying they were holding their price points; but in fact we booksellers were paying as our margins decreased.
“Retailers have been handicapped by government with four weeks annual leave and rises in the minimum wage. Those are a lot of extra costs to absorb when your discounts remain unchanged.”

Joan then moved on to the volume of books coming on the market each month. “There are 1,500 to 2,000 titles being offered each month. Retailers spend an awful lot of time sifting through, and publishers have to understand we simply can’t take the lot.

"They should be more selective in what they decide is worth publishing."
“Publishers also need to appreciate what makes the public decide to buy and what customers care about.

“I’m tired of publishers telling me that I sold x quantity of an author’s previous title so I should take the same of a subsequent book… what we purchase and what we sell are often two entirely different things. We know how many we actually sold of the title and base our decision on that, amongst other things.”

How did publishers attending the training seminar respond?

“Hard to know – no one shot me down in flames, which was a good start, but a number of them said afterwards that they’d found it quite informative and useful – there are a number of angles from which the industry can be looked at, and some of this content was I think quite new to them.

“I hope it was genuinely helpful as it’s important to us all that we understand each other’s businesses better in this strange new world.”


Brian P said...

Net pricing anyone????

transpressnz said...

"They should be more selective in what they decide is worth publishing.
“Publishers also need to appreciate what makes the public decide to buy and what customers care about."

Ms McKenzie thinks that experienced commercial publishers in this country do not carefully analyse those aspects?

Anonymous said...

Transpressnz seriously thinks that "experienced commercial publishers" actually DO carefully analyse their publishing schedules? Have a look at the coma-inducing titles that can't even sell for $2 in the Whitcoulls/Borders so-called Mega Sale and tell me that these were good publishing decisions. I often wonder if publishers inhabit an alternative universe with some of the titles they waste my time with.