What about book returns ?
Will I ruffle feathers saying this? Will I be blackballed for it by more than one annoyed bookstore owner?
Well, here goes:
I feel that expecting small publishers to accept returns of unsold books places upon them an undue burden.
Consider: commerce is risky business. It’s a gamble. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. That is the nature of the game - and the book trade calls for risking one’s time and resources on the outcome.
Authors of books - all while having to keep body and soul together by other means - invest countless unpaid hours in writing. For them it’s a gamble, if they’ll ever see a royalty check in return. They might win someday, maybe even win big. But to get started in the game, they have to ante up - all those unpaid hours. No one pays them to write.
Publishers, for their hand in the game, have to ante up too. Having found a manuscript that in their opinion has merit, they have to commit resources to produce a well-made book. Lots of costs here - editing; page layout; proofreading; treatment of images; cover design; copyright protection; ISBN fees; time spent writing book descriptions and author biographies. No one pays the publisher up front for all this work (unless, that is, they’re the sort of publisher who passes the buck and charges the author for it).
Like authors, publishers play the game in the hopes they will win, maybe even win big. But like authors, they have to ante up first.
Well, this is where we appreciate working with bookstore owners who are willing to play by the same rule, who are willing to shoulder a share of the risk.
Happily, a bookstore's wager works out to be the smallest ante of all: the wholesale cost of a few books. They can put a title on their shelves for pennies compared to the what the publishers have risked, peanuts compared to what the authors have invested.
But when bookstores insist on being able to return unsold books, and won’t consider ordering or stocking a book unless it is returnable, I feel they are according themselves an unfair advantage in the game.
Why? Because, under those conditions the game only has two possible outcomes for the bookseller: winning, or winning big. All risk of loss is borne by the other players.
For our part, we see the book trade as a team sport. Authors, publishers and bookstores - we’re all on the same team. When a book sells, our team wins. When a book becomes a best-selling phenomena, the whole team takes the trophy... and its share of the prize money.
A.B.C. Editions is a team player. We do our utmost to insure that bookstores receive a quality product at an advantageous wholesale price, one that will recompense them with an honest profit when it sells.
We hope our bookstore partners will be team players, too.