Saturday, February 23, 2008

The mystery deepens

The mystery deepens regarding where these 'missing' 70 books have gone to - the figure is actually 69 rather than 70. Coran and I went into town for some shopping today, and as we were passing I went into their High Street branch to offer to sign the copies they had in stock. I asked the book seller that I spoke to if there was any way of checking the system to see if the books in question had gone to Waterstones, and he said there was no indication of an order that size, so the plot thickens.

Coran thinks I should just be happy that this has happened and not worry about where they have gone, but I am curious and can't help but be dying to know! I think most people in my position would feel the same, especially after the emotional roller coaster of the last few weeks. If it has indeed become core stock then apart from anything else, I want to write some press releases and announce this, not just on my own website and preferably Richard's, but on every writing and PR website and magazine that is willing to write about me - and I suspect there would be a few of them. After all, it is not every day that a print on demand book is taken on those terms.

With steady sales now beginning to mount up over the last few months (not sure about January, but 3o in December and 23 in the last 30 days), it is getting to the point where the book will be beginning to be noticed by the buying team at Waterstones anyway, and if I can keep this up (and I see no reason why I shouldn't), then it is really only a matter of time before it does make one of the lower tiers of core stock anyway.

I have just spoken though to Paul Rix, who does publicity on behalf of some of Richard's authors, and he seems to think that they may in fact have gone to Borders, since it seems that he spoke to them again about my book just recently. Looking at those figures again and bearing in mind the number of stores that they have, it may be feasible that a couple have been sent out to each of them as core stock I suppose. Paul has promised to do some digging around on Monday anyway, and said he will give me a call on Monday after I am home from work. I await the results with baited breath and fingers crossed.

In the meantime, a report on The Bookseller website states that there are record numbers of independent book sellers and small publishers starting up in business - up 6 percent in the last three years. Membership of the Independent Publishers Guild is at an all time high, with 515 members up from 400 three years ago.

The number of small publishers registering with Nielsen, who allocate ISBN's has also gone up considerably on 2006. 2900 members applied for publisher ISBN prefixes in 2007, compared to 2800 in 2006 and 2740 in 2005. The majority of these the article states are one man bands, purchasing the minimum batch of 10 ISBN's but registering just one book - this leads me to conclude that the majority of these are in fact self publishers.

Simon Petherick, publisher at Beautiful Books, said he had seen a levelling of the playing field since he started his company in 2006. "The most difficult thing for independents is to get your books front-of-store along with the bigger players. But if you have a marketing plan, make an effort and are prepared to play by [retailers'] rules, they are receptive to you. It's a good time to be an independent." I think I would concur with that.

Tom Chalmers, m.d. at Legend Press also makes the point that customers are increasingly looking to the independents for something different, and that because of their smaller size, they can work that much more quickly thereby responding to trends, and taking chances that the larger conglomerates just cannot do. There has never then been a better time to become an independent publisher or book seller.

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