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Bruce Chrumka
Posted on Saturday, December 23, 2006 - 07:05 am:   

A quick query [and apologies if you've already fielded this one]:

If a library decides to order, say, a dozen volumes of one title from Night Shade, does that gladden your heart, or, does the volume discount merely lower your inventory without bringing in desired margins? If the latter, does that affect the monies received by the authors and editors? Thanks and Merry Christmas.

Bruce
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Bruce Chrumka
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 05:14 pm:   

I ask because the local library will pick up 4-10 copies of Nightshade, PS Publishing, Golden Gryphon titles if requested. Are such volumes to libraries so deeply discounted as to annihilate the margins that make business tenable?
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 07:53 pm:   

Not if the publisher knows what it's doing---which I think is the case in the three instances you mentioned.

Library sales vary, but a lot of them are done through distributors like Baker & Taylor that have high but not crippling discounts.
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Bruce Chrumka
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 09:12 am:   

Thanks, Gordon.

Looking forward to the Gene Wolfe issue and Ian R. MacLeod's new aether novella. And the rest of the year's issues.
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Ed Sinkovits
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 09:49 am:   

Just to add to what's been said, there are hundreds of publishers around, most fairly small, publishing books each month. If a library was to order direct on the publisher then they would have to set up accounts/lines of credit with each publisher, issue hundreds of purchase orders to all the different publishers, and in turn handle hundreds of small shipments coming in each month, and hundreds of invoices to pay..... I may be exaggerating a bit, but you can nonetheless see the advantages to a library of setting up a single account with a major distributor and placing a single order for all their requirements. A single consolidated shipment is always cheaper than say 50 individual shipments. The discount might not be quite as good as they might get by buying direct from a publisher but there are probably significant savings in the order handling and processing costs and shipping costs. This doesn't mean that some libraries and institutions don't buy direct for various reasons.
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John Klima
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 04:45 pm:   

We carry a lot of independent press stuff (Night Shade Books, Subterranean Press, Fairwood Press, PS Publishing) at my library, and we get most (all?) of it through Baker & Taylor. And not all of the books are ordered by me.

Here's the thing, if the patrons want it, any library worth their salt should get it for their patrons. If a patron comes into our library looking for a book and we don't have it, we'll get it for them. If it's new, we'll buy it, if it's older, we'll get it through inter-library loan.

Here's the other thing to consider, a sale to a library will never get returned. If you get a good review in library journal, it's possible to receive hundreds or thousands of sales to libraries just through that review. And those books will not be returned to the publisher.

And one last thing, libraries buy books on Amazon, too. Just like everyone else. They will buy the book for you (i.e., add the book to their collection) if they value their patrons. No, we won't set up hundreds of accounts with hundreds of publishers, but we will set up an account with Amazon.

John Klima
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 12:21 am:   

In my own case, having just gotten a report on the sales of my novel The Translation of Father Torturo, it seems that most of the sales were to libraries. I am not sure that is a good thing for me, but it might say just how important libraries are.
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Sean Wallace
Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 09:12 am:   

I personally prefer if most library orders go through wholesalers, regardless of discounts, because it really means less work for us. That's the advantage of a wholesaler or a distributor, in that they handle the invoicing, shipping, and more, so that allows the publisher to focus on production, and marketing.

But all this depends on the business model of the publishing company. Some small press publishers thrive on strong mailing lists and direct sales, with little reliance on distribution sales. It just depends on what makes sense for them.

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