HarperStudio & Borders Go Non-returnable on Books

We have previously reported on the current struggles of Borders bookstore chain and read with interest a business snippet in this week’s Wall street Journal. It seems HarperStudio titles will now be stocked by Borders on a ‘non-returnable’ basis. as with everything in business – this can be construed in two different ways. HarperStudio would consider themselves at the more ‘left of field’ end of publishers and have been consistently setting trends which have broken the traditional norms of publishing. HarperStudio have offered authors ‘no advance – increased royalties’ terms contracts and will see this move with Borders as an extension of this ethos through to the book retailer.

“Under the terms of the deal, the nation’s second-largest bookstore chain by revenue will get a deeper discount on initial orders of books published by the new imprint of News Corp.’s HarperCollins Publishers — 58% to 63% off the cover price”

– Wall Street Journal, December 16th, 2008.

The retail price discount of 58% to 63% is above the 55% maximum that many medium to small publishers aleady feel is an exhorbitant cut on a product the retailer has nothing to do with until it reaches it finally journey – from idea to written manuscript, from submission to edit and print preparation by a publisher, through to production and marketing. They are like the drunk who staggers on to the bus at the second last stop, hoping not to be charged – grudgingly spends several minutes fumbling with loose change while holding everybody up – reluctantly pays their dues, complains to their seated neighbour for a minute or two, then staggers off into the night at the next stop. HarperStudio will see the extra discount granted as an easy trade-off against the frustrating amount of books which travel in the wrong direction every few months.

The other side of things from Borders point of view will be regarding inventory and the volume of books or copies of each book they are carring in every outlet. From what has been reported and my own findings in local Border stores, this kind of deal would suit them. It will be interesting to see how many more retailers will take Harperstudio up on their ‘non-returnable’ offer with an increased discount. We watch and wait…

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