Thursday, August 02, 2007

Musings on the book industry in general

I have some more news to report - my book is in the local library. Having spent a good deal of time last week Emailing various library authorities across the country, quite a few of them came back to say that they have either ordered, or will be considering my book at their next acquisitions meeting. When I contacted Surrey they came back to say that they already stocked the book. I was unaware of this, as although I contacted them a few months ago, before I published the new edition, they didn't get back to me with a response, so I naturally assumed they weren't interested, hence my second approach with the new edition. Imagine my surprise to find that my book is stocked in 2 Surrey libraries - Oxted and Weybridge. I asked them if it would be possible to get the books transferred nearer home, where people know me, and I was promised a call back from the librarian who is in charge of my genre (they have filed the book on the religious shelf). The call did not materialise, so yesterday I went into town to visit the gym, and popped into the library on the way.

It was then that I discovered that the Weybridge copy is out on loan. They tried then to get through to Oxted but it was engaged. I then asked if I could donate a copy to the local library, and they said they would be delighted to have it. I was unaware that I could I do this, since last time I asked, I am sure they said no. It seems that the reason for this may have been to do with cataloguing, since books that are not already listed with them (i.e. bought direct through the library service) have to be approved as suitable (e.g. no porn, terrorism threats, racism etc) and catalogued accordingly, which is time consuming. Because my book is already stocked by Surrey libraries, all this has already been done, so I can in theory, donate as many of those unsold first editions as they can take - to all the libraries in my area. And best of all, although I am giving the books away, they are not really free, since I will get the money back through public lending rights.
On another note though, I hear that Waterstone's are changing the way that they conduct their central buying process to allow them to confirm buying decisions three months ahead of publication date. This is very helpful to self publishers when the POD process takes around three months to begin with, and you do not have a publication date until the book is in your hand! As a result Waterstones are creating a buying timetable, including a buying week for each month's new titles, and moving from six monthly highlights presentations to tri-annual presentations where publishers present the key titles for each major season: Spring, Summer and Autumn/Christmas. Waterstones are cancelling all existing appointments and six monthly highlight presentations from late August onwards and re-scheduling according to their new timetable.

Since Waterstones are running behind they are asking publishers to present both January and February titles plus January to April highlights at the same time in the first window, which will be 28th August to 7th September. Publishers are also being asked to send in the AI sheets and spreadsheet grid for the month they are presenting to the relevant buying administrators one week prior to the start of each buying week. They will be unable to buy books without a correctly formatted grid. What a way to do business!

So by reducing the amount of face time that publishers have to present their new and upcoming titles, the greater the chance becomes of them being passed over. This decision then will do serious harm to the small and independent publishers, in particularly the self published author, who already has to jump through hoops in order to get a fair chance and get through the door. Thank goodness for sites like the Nothing Binding project. Is it any wonder that more and more people are turning away from the traditional book stores and buying online.