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marthawells

Martha Wells

My Flying Lizard Circus


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marthawells

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kaigou has a great long article here explaining the facts of life of small independent bookstores.

On how the fact that books sitting unsold in warehouses are now considered taxable goods:

If the book doesn't sell fast, then you've got to get rid of it fast, or you're stuck with it. Smaller bookstores must eat the risk or do stock/returns at a much much faster rate than before. So if you've got lazy readers (like me) who wander into the bookstore 5, 6 months after a book came out... it's not on the shelf. Amazon becomes my only choice. OR, you don't order at all, and readers learn to not even bother checking, and go straight to internet-ordering, whatever the source.

And the concept of "churning" (which is what Borders is currently being sued for) and how it can harm small presses:

Borders is busy ordering, doesn't have to pay, AND is returning books to Ingrams instead of to the original, small, publisher-distributors. So the publisher/distributor is sending the rest of the order while the first half is being RETURNED FOR CREDIT, and Borders can then use that credit to get books through Ingrams, who carries a helluva lot more than just that one small press. It's like, "I ordered 500 copies of the Book of Vacuum Cleaner Hoses, only got 250 so far, then immediately returned those 250 not to Hose Press but to Ingrams, got $5,000 credit, and turned around to use that to purchase from Ingrams 500 copies of Dan Brown's latest tripe, on which I've now made $5,000 on top of the money I didn't actually even pay yet."

Notice that Borders has not paid out a single penny yet. Basically, they ordered something, returned it elsewhere, and used that return to buy something else which was sold at a profit -- and meanwhile, the original distributor/publisher has not even been paid a penny.


Here's a another article, from mediabistro, on the suit against Borders.

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I knew there was a reason I disliked Borders. Besides the fact I couldn't get your Fall of Ile-Rien except online.

Unfortunately, their deals are better than Barnes and Nobles, even if it's limited to one book. (Funny thing about those deals. I stopped buying multiple books if I'm purchasing a hardcover with a coupon because I don't want said discount only for an $8 rather than a $30 book. So their practices end up limiting the number of purchases I make.)

Oh well. Maybe someone will introduce legislation on a Federal level to outlaw "churning" and regulate the book and publishing industries better....

Rob H.

Yep, there's just got to be a better way to do it.

Ingram runs the same game with the small publishers. When I started out working at such a small publishing company, it was in accounting (summer job), and one of the largest nightmares was reconciling the Ingram returns--where they used their credits to cover new orders. It seems like there eventually was some resolution, or I just left accounting and never had to hear about it any more.

Yeah, the return system was never that great to start with, but the fact that they've been able to pull this stuff makes it all so much worse.

Why would Ingrams accept this dumping of books? It seems that it would cost them money they can't afford. I realize that Borders is huge and huge clients get special priveleges but wholesale dumping hurts everyone but Borders.

If I'm understanding it right, Ingrams is counting on being paid back by the original publisher/distributor, which is already overextended and will probably end up having to destroy most of the books they just printed to keep from paying a huge tax bill on them. Yeah, it's crazy.

It's not just Borders (etc.).

My husband and i run a small artisan craft biz, and The Rules are such as to drive anyone sane into abandoning it.

What one has to legally track vs. what one actually needs to do to make things successful/profitable, are so out of phase that it's practically impossible to do both.

I think we should criticize the accounting that makes such stupidity attractive at least as much as we criticize those that are trying to play by the (insanely perverted) rules.

On how the fact that books sitting unsold in warehouses are now considered taxable goods:

This is particularly worrisome to me, too....

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