In one small article on the AP newswire, and one giant rumble in the world of publishing, Borders is going to order books from HarperStudio with the agreement that they will not be returned. Under the decades-old arrangement, similar to consignment shopping, bookstores order titles with little risk. If those titles don’t sell, they send them back to the publisher for full credit AND without paying shipping charges. The publisher takes the books back, then often returns them to the bookstores at a discount for bargain shoppers.
[Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong in my synopsis of the WTF that is the relationship between bookstores and publishers.]
HarperStudio, if your memory is like mine (muddy and often confused), is the imprint at HarperCollins that aims to reduce author advances and follow a profit sharing model instead. The Wall Street Journal quotes HarperStudio chief:
“Returns have never made sense in our business, and with the recent economic downturn, publishers and booksellers are more open than before to experimenting with models that might decrease waste and increase profit,” said Robert Miller, president and publisher of HarperStudio. When he started the imprint earlier this year, Mr. Miller said he intended to shake up traditional book-publishing economics.
So, on one hand: safe bets on sales from established or known money makers for profit-sharing model. On the other hand: isn’t it about time that a different sales model was approached in the book business aside from the severely flawed “consignment” model?