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Not sure how much I buy that story.

First, most indie bookstores do NOT deal directly with the publisher. They will deal with a distributor.

Second, if the publisher has a limit of 200 per store, how did this bookstore buy 300 from Target?

Third, most major retailers (like Target) have policies against making those kind of bulk orders for resale. I work in contract packaging. I've seen some of these contracts. That manager would be fired for turning over all of his inventory to a competing store...at a discount.

Four, I suspect that (assuming the bookstore DID buy directly from the publisher) that if the bookstore had a good return ratio and no credit problems, they would have gotten the books. Generally, suppliers only put purchase limits on clients who have bad credit or are slow to pay.

Sorry, the story just sounds off.
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
Not sure how much I buy that story.

First, most indie bookstores do NOT deal directly with the publisher. They will deal with a distributor.

Second, if the publisher has a limit of 200 per store, how did this bookstore buy 300 from Target?

Third, most major retailers (like Target) have policies against making those kind of bulk orders for resale. I work in contract packaging. I've seen some of these contracts. That manager would be fired for turning over all of his inventory to a competing store...at a discount.

Four, I suspect that (assuming the bookstore DID buy directly from the publisher) that if the bookstore had a good return ratio and no credit problems, they would have gotten the books. Generally, suppliers only put purchase limits on clients who have bad credit or are slow to pay.

Sorry, the story just sounds off.
I agree with you, Julie. It just doesn't sound right.
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
First, most indie bookstores do NOT deal directly with the publisher. They will deal with a distributor.
True, most deal with distributors, but I know of several indie bookstores that actually prefer to deal directly with the publisher when possible. (Turn the Page in Boonsboro, MD comes to mind.)

Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
Sorry, the story just sounds off.
I definitely agree with you there, for a number of reasons you mentioned. But the mere fact that the bookstore allegedly was trying to deal with the publisher is not one of them.
 

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Amanda Brice said:
True, most deal with distributors, but I know of several indie bookstores that actually prefer to deal directly with the publisher when possible. (Turn the Page in Boonsboro, MD comes to mind.)
Yeah, Nora Roberts can do that.
 

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Gertie Kindle 'a/k/a Margaret Lake' said:
Yeah, Nora Roberts can do that.
Yes, she can. But my point is that not all indie bookstores deal solely with distributors (although most, of course, do, but the small indie that my mom used to work with sometimes did direct orders with publishing houses while also using distributors). So it's entirely possible that the bookstore in question might very well actually have a sales rep at that publishing house that they deal with. True, it's probably more likely they use a distributor. But that alone isn't reason to doubt this story. There are many other reasons to doubt the story. :D
 
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Amanda Brice said:
True, most deal with distributors, but I know of several indie bookstores that actually prefer to deal directly with the publisher when possible. (Turn the Page in Boonsboro, MD comes to mind.)
Which is why I said "most." And also why #4 comes to mind. If you have a good relationship with the publisher, the publisher will send you whatever the heck you want. Restriction policies generally only come into play if the retailer has a bad relationship with the supplier (slow payment, high level of returns, bounced checks, etc). "That's our policy" is generally code for "Dude, you are a deadbeat but I'm not authorized to say that." ;D
 

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I'll agree that I look at the story with a grain of salt, but most companies don't care if you're a deadbeat if you have cash in hand. Of course, it is possible there was something past due that would have had to be paid before a new order was authorized.

It's an odd story which could have happened but might also have some explanations.
 

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So what did we learn today?

Put language in your contract that gives you the power to overrule "The Policy(tm)"

Now let's all sing a song together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I agree that the story is dubious. I chose to post it because I got the link from a trusted friend who has published more than one NYT bestseller.

This is not the only story out there. Here is another:
http://www.thepassivevoice.com/02/2013/bookstores-and-the-mid-list-writer/

I am mindful of Spider Robinson's tale of the Spiral of Death. One of his books sold 80% of the print run in its first year (4,000 of 5,000). On his next book, the publisher printed only 4,000, 'cause, you see, that is what his previous book sold. This book sold 80%. So on his next book, the publisher printed only 3,200. You see where this is going. (Sorry for the lack of a link. It's been years since I read Spider's article. His wife was alive then. I think the article was in SFWA's bulletin, but I may be wrong.)

In short, the story requires we believe that the sales rep acted stupidly and irrationally, but in my experience, such behavior is not uncommon. Only in fiction does the world make sense.
 

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The bookstore also misunderstands the making of an non-returnable deal. Since the publisher has no guarentee that the books won't be returned through a distributor at a later point. It is hard for the publisher to stop a distributor from accepting those returns, since the distributor doesn't usually check or care that they didn't send those particular books. The distributor only cares if they end up granting more credit than sales.

Of course I wonder if the bookstore could have just prepaid through the author if they were willing to prepay.



 

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antares said:
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I am mindful of Spider Robinson's tale of the Spiral of Death. One of his books sold 80% of the print run in its first year (4,000 of 5,000). On his next book, the publisher printed only 4,000, 'cause, you see, that is what his previous book sold. This book sold 80%. So on his next book, the publisher printed only 3,200. You see where this is going.


That is typical. Caused by the ordering cycle of the chain bookstores.
 
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