Who fulfils the order when someone buys one of my books?

For my sins, I edit books for my local history society and prepare them for publication. But, having published quite a few, I would like to understand how internet book-sellers fulfil orders for these books – and how they make a profit. I live in the UK so will explain the question in UK terms.

 

We are registered with Nielsen (in the UK) as a publisher and have bought 20 ISBNs from them. We have been progressively using these ISBNs for our numerous local history books. When we publish, we select Lulu’s “global reach” option and our books in due course become visible at Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc. The information on those websites appears to come directly from Lulu and – I assume – it is Lulu that fulfils and despatches any subsequent orders made via those websites. This whole process has been very successful for us.

 

My question concerns the smaller players (e.g. Waterstone’s in the UK). Our books are also visible on the Waterstone’s website and at the sales price we have set. But the book blurb is missing and Waterstone’s are quoting a ridiculous delivery time of three weeks. If someone were to buy one of our books from Waterstone’s (it hasn't happened yet!), how would Waterstone’s fulfil the order? And why would they need three weeks? As far as I can tell, Waterstone's (and presumably numerous other internet book sellers) have no interface with Lulu (otherwise they wouldn'tbe missing our book blurb). So, who is it that fulfils an order placed with Waterstone's - and how do they make any profit?

Comments

  • I believe that Lulu distribute print books through Ingrams. So when Waterstones receives an order for one of your books they then place an order with Ingrams, who presumably ship to Waterstones, who then ship to their customer. This could explain the delivery time. With Amazon the turnaround is probably a few hours as they have their own printing facility.

     

    As for the profit...the distributor and retailer take 50 % of the cover price of the book; that is how they make their profit. The manufacturing costs, Lulu's commission and your earnings have to come out of the 50 % that remains.

     

    I think you should contact Lulu support about the missing blurb. I think there was a time when the keywords chosen by a Lulu author did not go into distribution - which I think is absolutely daft - but I was never aware of a problem with blurbs.

  • Thanks. The process you describe does make sense, though it hadn't occcurred to me before I read your reply.

     

    Re: the missing book blurb, I have a feeling that Waterstone's (for example) must be getting its book info direct from Nielsen (in the UK) rather than from Lulu. In a couple of instances, we forgot (ah-hem!) to upload the front-cover image to Neilsen when we registered the book against the ISBN. Although Waterstone's still had the book for sale, it didn't have a front-cover image.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    pmarris wrote:

    Thanks. The process you describe does make sense, though it hadn't occcurred to me before I read your reply.

     

    Re: the missing book blurb, I have a feeling that Waterstone's (for example) must be getting its book info direct from Nielsen (in the UK) rather than from Lulu. In a couple of instances, we forgot (ah-hem!) to upload the front-cover image to Neilsen when we registered the book against the ISBN. Although Waterstone's still had the book for sale, it didn't have a front-cover image.


    In such a case, you best option would be to contact Neilsen and provide them the more complete information. They then will most likely update their data, which should then update Waterstone's et al.

     

    You could also contact Waterstone's directly.

     

    There is also the option of offering a direct sale version of your works: You would create a new "version" with a different ISBN, and select "direct sales" in the wizard. Then the book is only visible to those to whom you provide a direct link. You can then set a lower price than retail and bookstores such as Waterstone's could use the link to purchase directly from Lulu, reducing their turnaround time and providing a better per-unit profit to your organization... and potentially to Waterstone's as well.

     

    Further, the information (blurbs &c.) would go directly from Lulu to Waterstone's, so the chance of lost blurbs would be greatly reduced. It would cost you an ISBN, which at the block-of-ten rate probably costs you 30 quid or so. ROI would depend on sales.

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