Bullying & Nonsense

I have heard from three authors today that they’ve had their wrists slapped by their publishers. Why?

For not having Barnes and Noble sales links on their sites for their books.  Authors were informed that if updates to their sites were not made immediately Barnes and Noble would not be ordering their books.

Holy hopping shite, who in the name of better things to do has the job of surfing all the author websites looking for ordering links?

And why is a bookseller mandating authors maintain point of sale links – often at their own expense since many web management firms charge
per update (which is something that already irks me but that’s beside the point)? Referrals are earned commodities, not mandated by threats.

Anyone else get the “send your readers to B&N or else” threat today?  Surely there other ways to encourage book sales than bullying &  nonsense, right? Right?

ETA:

This is part of an email that was sent to authors today:

One of our major accounts is now checking author websites, and is REFUSING to put in an order if their site is not listed as a place to go to buy….

The particular account is B&N, but we anticipate that in the future more sellers will have this requirement….
 
Please do this ASAP…. I’m not exaggerating when I say they WILL NOT ORDER the book unless their site is listed.

Question: would it have been too much to… ask? Instead of, you know, threatening?

 

Categorized:

General Bitching...

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Suze says:

    What if you don’t have a website?  If Linda Howard has one, I’ve never found it.  Is it written into your contract that you must have a website, and it must have POS?  And if publishers are specifying that any money in an advance MUST be spent on marketing, and therefore you should have a website, then the whole advance model is really going to have to change.  This sounds invasive and like a lawsuit waiting to happen.  Dumbness.

  2. 2
    liz m says:

    SRSLY? I wish I were surprised, but I know a fair number of people who work for / have worked for B&N so I can’t say I’m shocked. I’m the sort of person who would say “Tell them that’s fine then” and promptly add a note for my readers to buy my work other places.

  3. 3
    ghn says:

    What next? Will they refuse to order the books if the authors have links to – or even mention – other publishers?

    What are they _thinking_? Are they thinking at all?

    Perhaps the authors will start to put links on their websites, mention message from B&N and recommend the link to any other bookseller?  ;-)

  4. 4
    RStewie says:

    I wouldn’t shoot myself in the foot over it, but I would add more than B&N’s POS.  WalMart, Books on Board, Amazon, BAM, FictionWise, etc would all be thrown up there. 

    B&N would, however, be on the bottom of the list.

  5. 5
    Carol says:

    This is, indeed, a ridiculous request made by B&N.

    Also, on the minor point of web mgt firms charging per update – it depends on what kind of contract you set up.  Believe me, if there’s no compensation for changes (even small changes) then a designer will get so bogged down with minor update requests for which they’ll make no money – that they won’t have time for new clients.

  6. 6
    SheaLuna says:

    That is over-the-top nuts.  Can we say Big Fat-Ass Bully Book Nazis?

    I won’t be buying from B & N again.  Not that I do now, living in the UK, but I won’t be shopping there if I ever move back.  I don’t like being told where to shop and I don’t like my fave authors being bullied. 

    It’s just… rude.  Sorry, that’s all I got.

  7. 7
    Castiron says:

    I haven’t heard anything about this at the publisher I work for.

    The only place I can think of that this might have come from is Amazon’s changing their rules so that if you’re using Amazon content (covers, etc.) to promote books, you can only have Amazon links on the primary page; this could be a B&N response.

    But it sounds very odd, and I’d like to know which publishers are saying this.

  8. 8

    When I was a working journalist I had a sign over my desk: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”  Do we know for a fact that authors are being told they have to do this?  Is it a particular publisher, and if so, can we find out who it is?

    I wouldn’t want to slam B&N without having the full story.

  9. 9
    Jacquilynne says:

    I agree with Rstewie—if I was an author with a site and I got that message, I’d make sure I had a link to every place it was possible to buy my book on my site. And B&N would be at the bottom of the list, right underneath links to the geocities-based websites of unfortunately closed local stores with names like Ye Olde Book Shoppe in places like Podunk Hills, Missouri.

  10. 10
    job says:

    @Darlene

    Sorta what I was thinking.  Who would be doing this and under what contract provision?

  11. 11
    Gram says:

    It sounds as if it is the publisher that is being “cranky”.  What is an author to do if their publisher demands such a thing???  If we find that it is B&N demanding such a thing, we know what to do!!  But how do you boycott a publisher and not adversely affect your fav author???

  12. 12
    Anonymous says:

    Do we know for a fact that authors are being told they have to do this?

    Yes.  I can confirm this is true.  My editor emailed me yesterday and said I needed to link to B&N immediately or else suffer their buyers’ retribution. 

    I complied.

  13. 13

    @Anonymous—Thank you for confirming this.  I don’t blame you for complying, but it’s not a good situation for you or other authors.  You have my sympathy.

  14. 14
    Anonymous says:

    I was also directed to add links, but not just Barnes and Noble. There were many listed. However my editor did not make it sound like we were being threatened. I thought it was just a new policy.

  15. 15

    I haven’t ever received anything remotely along the lines of ‘link to this site or they won’t carry your books’.

    I do have BN listed, along with Borders, Bamm, Powells and Amazon.

    A while back, I did receive an email with a politely worded request, and it was clearly a request, that I consider adding Borders to my site, but it was already on there.

    Before I cried foul about anything, I want to know exactly what the publishers were told, and what the authors were told.

  16. 16
    awaskyc says:

    I recently took a class in book marketing in which we were told to make sure authors have links, not just to B&N, but to all the major online booksellers: amazon, powells, indiebound… I think there is a good reason for this, though. If authors are linking just to amazon, which many do, B&N has every right to say why should we stock your book if you’re sending your fans somewhere else? Marketing is done on the part of the publisher, not the bookseller, so I think B&N has every right to say that if online marketing efforts aren’t directing people to B&N as at least one of the options, they won’t carry the book. Harsh, but there you are. Remember, this is the company that charges the publisher for every book cover that’s wrong on B&N’s site.

  17. 17
    Jane says:

    I understand that it is strongly suggested that all accounts are represented on an author’s site. Most authors have only Amazon and all accounts want equal treatment

  18. 18
    Tango says:

    I’d heard someone making a similar complaint about Amazon recently.

    Now, if the issue is as awaskyc says: why should we sell your book if you’re sending people to buy it elsewhere with your site? – that’s understandable.

    I don’t care for the environment I find in a Borders or a Barnes & Nobles. Waldenbooks I like, even though I know they’re owned by one of the other two.  However, Waldenbooks are scarce nowadays, so I don’t make it in to them often.

    I honestly find that I’m reading less variety because what I can’t find is a bookseller who employees people that can understand what I like and help me find more of it.  When all my friends stopped working at the local Waldenbooks in college, I stopped shopping there.

    Nowadays my reading list looks like Jim Butcher and Robert Jordan with a hint of Anne and Todd McAfferey. And I can get those from Amazon for less hassle and headache, without the pretentious atmosphere and overpriced coffeeshop of a bookstore.

  19. 19
    Diana says:

    But the demand goes both ways, right? If the author has a link on his or her site, then he or she can expect to see his or her books on the shelves of any B&N in America?

    Riiiiiiight.

  20. 20
    CaroleM says:

    Hmm.  If B&N stops ordering books based on what is stuck on a random website, wonder what they’ll sell in place of said books.  And if the sales from a button/link on said random website is so incredibly profit-producing and important, how come they have all those fancy bookstores taking up real estate.  I have approx 10,000 (literally) books in my home and I can safely say I’ve never purchased a single one from an authors website.  Plenty online, but never from an authors website link.

    Word for Day -nothing67 -as in if B&N stops ordering books to sell, they’ll be stuck with nothing to sell but 67 pieces of overpriced stale coffhouse snacks.

  21. 21
    Heather says:

    Wow. Just… wow. I’m extremely amused by this because my local B&Ns; never get new releases out until a week, sometimes two or three, after they were released.  Because it’s the closest to both my work and my job, I used to go there all the time to pick up books the first week they come out but after having to constantly ask at the info desk where the book is because the new release displays are filled with books that came out a month ago and the actual new releases are still in the stock room. B&N isn’t doing their part to get these books sold when they first come out but they expect the authors to jump and immediately post a link to their store on their site?

  22. 22
    MamaNice says:

    So if J.K. Rowling decides what the hell, and releases a Harry Potter 8…ya think B&N won’t sell it if she doesn’t link to them?
    Mmmm….prob. not.

    Methinks B&N will put the asshat away for the big fish.

    I think, regardless of links, readers buy their books from a: where it is cheapest, or b: where they are most comfortable. That’s never been B&N for me, and a link on an author’s site won’t change that.

    I suppose if B&N offered special in-store or website marketing in exchange for a prominent link on an author’s site – that would be fair, but I have no clue what I’m talking about.

  23. 23
    quichepup says:

    B&N’s attitude is pretty harsh but bookstores are hurting. I work for a different chain bookstore and we’re being pushed to sell, sell, sell because people aren’t buying like they used to do. When most people buy online they go to Amazon first. While I do not agree with B&N’s demands I admit I understand why.

  24. 24
    A. Nony Mouse says:

    I work for BN and I’m a bit floored by the demand, but I understand the reasoning. Booksellers, like anyone else, are hurting for sales. Books take up valuable real estate in the shelves. If authors aren’t equal opportunity about their links, why should bookstores take the risk of ordering the books in the first place?  Not to say that consumers don’t know places like BN carry the latest titles; it’s more of an “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”. 

    I disagree with the methodology used, but I understand why it might be necessary. Besides, as a prospective author, I would have as many bookstore links posted possible. From a sales standpoint, it makes sense.

  25. 25

    I had a B&N link up already as an alternative to Amazon. Now I’m tempted to accidentally break it.

  26. 26
    Janet W says:

    OK, this is completely non-scientific but a) I can never get into the B&N site quickly and I can always get to the Borders site b) Amazon is hands down most user friendly for buying books … they’re even making it easier to wrap used books into the “free shipping $25 thing and c) lastly, I’m not wild about the face/tone of B&Ns; online romance hostess. So, they’re the last place I’d go.

    Plus, in RL, when I need a book yesterday, Borders is day in/day out the place that is most reliable. I forget where I read this, maybe SarahW? But someone suggested that we select out/applaud, individual book stores. I would ordinarily say great idea but so many of them are just not romance friendly. Even and including, the Outlander books … that’s just wrong :)

  27. 27

    I wonder is this is in response to, or related to, Amazons odd behavior regarding sites using Amazon data (ISBNs, cover images, etc.) without prominently featuring Amazon links?

    See:

    http://www.librarything.com/blog/2009/09/amazon-policy-change-and-how-were.php

  28. 28
    library addict says:

    Bad B&N!

    That said, why don’t more authors have multiple links up on their websites.  There are many Harlequin/Silhouette authors who only have links to Amazon on their webpage.  I realize that eHarlquin.com doesn’t carry the print version of their books forever, but why not at least list the site as an option and have a link to the e version if one is available?

  29. 29
    Casse says:

    That is craziness!  I can say this, I would say screw them and NOT put the link up.

  30. 30
    Mary Winter says:

    I’ll admit, it would be nice to know which publisher(s) were being targeted (i.e. is this like the Amazon.com/Createspace/removing buy buttons fiasco that primarily hit smaller presses, or something else?) and some more information.

    That said, given that the above mentioned issue has resulted in a lawsuit, wouldn’t this possibly be illegal in some fashion, since they are telling an author/publisher how to run their private business in order to do business with them?

    Oh wait, Voldemart does it already to its suppliers.

    I think we need some facts.

    Spamword – press53, yeah I’d be pressing the issue more than 53 times if this were happening to me or my press.

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