Selling to bookstores

Hello All,

 

I have a book that I would like to sell to independent book stores in New York City.  Is there a standard percentage or price that bookstores will pay for new books?  Is it all just left to negotiation?  Also, is there any standard on who pays for the shipping? 

 

If the bookstore pays, for example, 50% of the retail price and I also have to pay for shipping, how do I make any money??

 

With thanks,

 

Michael 

Comments

  • Ours are rare books, and more expensive than run-off-the-mill products.  

  • Michael,

    You are seriously not going to like what I have to tell you. Traditional publishers
    offer book stores a sale or return deal. In other words, if the book is not selling
    the book stores will return it to the publisher.

    Generally, traditional publishers offer bookstores anywhere up to a 55 % discount
    off the cover price.

    Customers of online bookstores pay the shipping. As a self published author the answer is
    you basically don't make any money, especially not on print books.

  • Hi Daniel,

    Thank you very much for this information. This is what I have been hearing as well - up to 55%. It is not an easy business!!

    With thanks,

    Michael
  • It is very disheartening to see books for sale that are far far cheaper than we can even have them made for via POD, now imagine what the retailers are actually paying for those mass-printed books if they can still make at least 50% profit on them, and as Dan says, if they do not sell them they can return them. (And it seems that very often some publishers later give them to charity shops who sell them for as little as 10p each.)

  • If you still  want to sell in bookstores, you can buy a few copies and see what store might let you sell them there for consignment. I did that here in town and I'm going to see if the local Christian bookstore will let me sell a couple of copies maybe or add it their list. I think that 's the only way until and if you get well known.

  • Wow!  This is pretty discouraging.  I don't write my books for profit.  I simply love to write.  But it's still quite discouraging to learn that you're basically publishing your books for the publishing company to make money.  My audience is my main concern.  Them not being cheated and overcharged.  Still unfair to the author.Smiley Sad


    danielblue wrote:

    Michael,

    You are seriously not going to like what I have to tell you. Traditional publishers
    offer book stores a sale or return deal. In other words, if the book is not selling
    the book stores will return it to the publisher.

    Generally, traditional publishers offer bookstores anywhere up to a 55 % discount
    off the cover price.

    Customers of online bookstores pay the shipping. As a self published author the answer is
    you basically don't make any money, especially not on print books.


     

  • SphinxCameronSphinxCameron Southern Escarpment Hill Country ✭✭

    Many authors make money on the e-versions of their books. On the print versions do a publisher grade version you can drop off on consignment at smaller bookstores willing to offer space.

     

    You can't compete toe-to-toe with a Traditional Publishing house, but you can offer a something a bit more economical for POD (via publisher grade). If you have a website, you can offer links to all versions and let your readers choose what they want to pay for.


    geneene wrote:

    Wow!  This is pretty discouraging.  I don't write my books for profit.  I simply love to write.  But it's still quite discouraging to learn that you're basically publishing your books for the publishing company to make money.  My audience is my main concern.  Them not being cheated and overcharged.  Still unfair to the author.Smiley Sad


    danielblue wrote:

    Michael,

    You are seriously not going to like what I have to tell you. Traditional publishers
    offer book stores a sale or return deal. In other words, if the book is not selling
    the book stores will return it to the publisher.

    Generally, traditional publishers offer bookstores anywhere up to a 55 % discount
    off the cover price.

    Customers of online bookstores pay the shipping. As a self published author the answer is
    you basically don't make any money, especially not on print books.


     


     


  • geneene a écrit :

    Wow!  This is pretty discouraging.  I don't write my books for profit.  I simply love to write.  But it's still quite discouraging to learn that you're basically publishing your books for the publishing company to make money.  My audience is my main concern.  Them not being cheated and overcharged. 

    ______________________________________________

     

    Bakers make and sell bread to make profits. Publishers make and sell books to make profits. What's wrong with that?

     

    Now let's be practical. Take a pack of your books, and offer them to second-hand bookstores. Thus you'll see how the book market works. Don't forget to report the results in this forum. Smiley Happy

  • I'm a little late answering the original question, but we do have the option of creating a direct sales option for retailers. Their cost is more the printing cost plus our profit (Lulu gets a cut), but we can send that link to the retailer, who can then buy below the suggested retail price, and still make a profit for all of us. And the retailer then pays their own shipping.

     

    Alternatively, buy at your cost and drop-ship, then invoice the bookstore with your mark-up.

  • There are at least 2 ways of getting your books physically for sale in book shops, and both can return reasonable (but not overly high) royalties, after all expenses have been incurred.

    The most convenient method for the shop (not you, sadly): agree a selling price which has to be based on your outgoings plus an extra amount which will be the royalties split between you and the shop. Payments to the authors / self publishers are usually after a given period, so as to allow at least a few to (hopefully) shift off the shelf within that given period. You of course also get your outgoings back from these payments. I and my publishing oppo have done this for the last 4 years or so now, and although it can be a bind funding the buying in a stock to give to the shop, we nevertheless make £2.00 GB per book sold, and that is the royalty after outgoings not before. The shop make about £2.00 as well, so, a 50/50 split on profits, which we're actually quite happy with, and the shop have been perfectly happy to keep to this arrangement.

    The other way, and this is the way it really should be done, although many stores' book buyers / procurers are not willing to put in the work to make it happen, is, for the store themselves to procure the book. They do this using the exact same procurement procedures as they would any other book, anything - Harry Potter, Car Manuals, Bios, the lot. By doing this, they get the book at least a little cheaper from the relevant wholesaler, and, eventually, after sales over a given period, the royalties wend their way through the system to the author's account on whatever site the book lives, albeit with a distro' package attached to it. This is perhaps the rub, as in some,perhaps many instances: first, the book might have an ISBN but not have been put into a distribution package, or it may not have an ISBN at all. Most shops will not sell a book without one, this is not universal, some will, but the overwhelming majority won't.

    Why not go with the first method, at first?  Once you've won the store's trust, have a discussion with the procurer to see if they will use the direct procurement method? You had best have put the book on distro' by this time though, it will shorten the odds quite a bit.

    Best of luck.

    J
  • edited November 25

    It is very disheartening to see books for sale that are far far cheaper than we can even have them made for via POD, now imagine what the retailers are actually paying for those mass-printed books if they can still make at least 50% profit on them, and as Dan says, if they do not sell them they can return them. (And it seems that very often some publishers later give them to charity shops who sell them for as little as 10p each.)

    Well, one problem is that POD is not by any means the cheapest way to manufacture books. In fact, it is really the most expensive method if your intention is to produce books in large quantities...which you need to do if you want to have them appear on bookstore shelves. 

    The difference lies in unit cost. In POD printing, each book costs pretty much the same no matter how many copies you want. There may be a small discount for mass orders, but it does not really amount to very much per book. Practically speaking, if one 200-page POD trade paperback costs $5 then 1000 books might cost $4200. In traditional printing, however, the cost per book drops dramatically with the number of books being printed. For instance, 1000 copies of a traditionally printed trade paperback may cost about $2500 (at a typical press), or $2.50 per book. If you increase the print run to 5000 the cost per copy drops to less than $1.25 each. If the cover price of the book is, say, $10 you can see how traditional publishers can afford to stay in business.

    This difference in pricing is because most of the costs in traditional printing go to into pre-press setup. Once the presses are running, they can pretty much just keep on pumping out books until you say "when."

    Traditional printing is also dramatically cheaper if there is any color at all involved in a book. In POD printing, if even a single period were to be in color on just one page the cost of the book would nearly double. In traditional printing the additional cost would be negligible to the point of irrelevance. If the same trade paperback I used as an example above were to include color pages throughout, the cost per copy per 1000 would be just $3.50 and per 5000 about $1.50 each from a traditional printer.

    By comparison, the same book in color from Lulu would be $26. For a print run of 1200 copies this would be reduced to $21 each. 


  • John
     

    It is wishful thinking to expect a bookstore to order books written by self-published authors from the existing distribution channels in any meaningful numbers. There simply is no financial incentive for bookstores to do this; shelf space is expensive and it has to be paid for by healthy book sales, with large profit margins, which print on demand simply cannot offer.




  • SphinxCameronSphinxCameron Southern Escarpment Hill Country ✭✭
    The only way to make a POD book cheaper to print is a direct access project using publisher grade rather than premium grade paper. It still doesn't come close to the Economy of Scale cost for traditional publishing, but it is slightly better and might make it worthwhile for an indie author to print out a few copies to leave on consignment.

    If the books sell, the bookstore might want to place an order using the direct access project.
  • There is no way that bookstores will want to place an order for all the reasons I have already outlined.

    Bookstores take books on a sell or return basis. Who will refund the bookstore for the books they have purchased which are not selling?

    Bookstores operate on a very deep discount offered by the publisher. Who will offer this discount to the bookstore? If they order a book they will have to pay the list price the author has set which means they will have to add a huge mark up on what is already an expensive book, which means few will be tempted to buy the book unless it is exceptional in which case the author will most likely already have a publishing deal.

    POD authors are far better off concentrating on selling their books in online bookstores such as Amazon than trying to get them into brick and mortar bookstores. There is no financial risk in print on demand; the downside of this is that there is seldom much reward. Get it right and risk leads to reward; get it wrong and risk leads to heavy losses.




  • SphinxCameronSphinxCameron Southern Escarpment Hill Country ✭✭
    I was referring to smaller stores (secondhand or independent) that do take books on consignment, not the chains.

    With a direct access project and publisher grade paper, the author can set the price to receive a modest royalty that would be somewhat more attractive (still not great but better) than full list on premium paper.

    As for exceptional authors already having a publishing deal, there are those who would disagree. There are some excellent writers out there nobody's heard of due to the variety of variables involved with getting a foot in the door, which many writers with talent never do. Talent is required (though I've seen respected authors have a lousy book published), but so is having the right manuscript at the right time in front of the right editor after going through the right person in charge of the slush pile.
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