Over at the Brascoe Publishing Blog there is a great article at the moment about the broken business model that the publishing industry insists on working with. I highly recommend that everybody go read it and drop a comment. Here’s a snippet:
The business model that publishers and booksellers exist within is something that we here at Brascoe Publishing have had problems with ever since our start-up. That business model is one of sale-or-return, known variously as consignment or returnability models. There is an increasing groundswell against this sales model around the world, as publishers and small booksellers begin to realise that it might not actually be to anybody’s benefit. Imagine my joy, then, to see an analysis of this model, focusing on Canada, focusing on financial analysis.
Batchelor discusses how, even though the returnability model is seen as being ‘the way things have always been done’, it has only really been in effect since the 1930s. During this time, just prior to the Great Depression, sales were viewed as being risky; hence, publishers began to provide books on a sale-or-return basis. However, the model stayed in place. As Batchelor argues, in good times people don’t tend to notice the cracks in such a model; in any other time – bad or just not as good – the cracks start to appear.
Incredibly, Batchelor argues that changing the business model could save the Canadian book industry a staggering $330 million per year.