Correct me if I'm wrong, by all means ... but it seems to me that this fledgling independent book publisher's gonads are caught in the proverbial ringer. I mean, really! Here's the delimma:
For a title to be purchased in bulk by a major bookstore chain (excluding Borders who just went out of business), the title must be distributed by one of the biggies - Ingram, Baker Taylor, etc - and it must be discounted to the bookseller at a 45 percent discount.
Now if an independent publisher sells through Lightning Source or other such wholesaler/printers who then lists with Ingram Book Distributor, the entire picture changes. If the book is listed at the usual 45 percent discount with Lightning Source or other such wholesaler/printers, Ingram will offer it to the bookseller at a 20 percent discount. Yea, that's right!!! They take their cut from the 45 percent. No bookseller will pay that price for a title, no way. And why should they? There are hundreds of thousands of books out there to choose from that are being offered at the appropriate discount. So, your title will NOT be stocked in a bookstore and most likely will NOT be ordered in bulk for booksignings. That's just the way it is.
By the way ... Baker Taylor may not even list the book in their catalog for whatever their reasons anyway, it's their option. No guarantees there.
Now the above is the scenario of an independent who is relatively new - trade paperback, print on demand, no or not many heavy-hitter sales, a publisher in the growing stage. And I might add, in order to guarantee a 40-45 percent discount to a bookseller, a 55 percent discount must be listed at the onset.
So let's figure this out ... on a $19 retail book:
55% off retail = $10.45 distributor and bookseller cuts
Cost of printing to publisher = $5.91 (depending on number of pages, etc.)
Author royalty = $2.85 (depending on percentage)
OOPS! Publisher gets minus .21 And that's just basic costs, not taking anything else into consideration, operating costs, etc. Ain't gonna happen, is it?
So can you see why some publishers have a high price tag on the book? And can you see why your book is not in a major bookstore?
But if the independent gains momentum in sales and meets Ingram's guidelines for inclusion in their direct distribution program, then the above changes. Dealing direct with Ingram or equivalent distributor (and most charge an arm and a leg for services) provides acceptable discounts to booksellers. However an independent publisher must have at least 10 good sellers and have an increasing track record as well as a terrific business plan. He has to qualify. This applies to print sales.
Anyway, I'm frustrated at the moment. Beating my head against the wall. Need to find a better way for the print division to cut costs, etc. Printing and warehousing is not an option for me, although that would possibly cut costs considerably but would then create a distribution problem. Not an option, as I said. Not yet anyway. Hey, if everything was easy, it wouldn't be fun and exciting, right?
Soooooooooooo ... I'll continue to plug along at a steady pace, publish to the best of my ability, concentrate on marketing both print and ebooks, and cut costs where I can and must. When I reach the level to pitch to Ingram, then that will be the direction I'll take. Maybe. Maybe by then there will be other alternatives. Maybe there is now. If so, I'll shift gears. But I will do what I have to do for my authors. They are my sole concern.
Thanks for reading my rant!