Am TOTALLY bummed when I hear about supposedly smart companies doing something that hurts those that help make their bottom lines. The parable of the scorpion and the frog comes to mind. You know it by heart:
Those two critters make a deal to cross the river together–despite the fear on the frog's part that the scorpion will bite it, and produce instant paralysis. But wanting to believe, wanting to trust, and hoping that "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" will prevail over natural instincts, frog agrees to let scorpio hop a ride–
Only to get bit on the back. Needless to say, BOTH DROWN.
(Sounds like the today's banking industry and its fear of loosening the reigns on credit, doesn't it? But I digress...)
Bookseller Arsen Kashkashian (Kash's Book Corner) points out the shortsightedness of in-the-black Hachette's new policy to eliminate several of its independent booksellers' co-op programs, including their newsletter co-op program ($2,000), their author events co-op ($200 to $800 per year) and their Emerging Voices program ($200). Total to the indies' bottom line: $3,000. That is a lot when you consider an indy's margins to begin with.
And, as Kashkashian points out, why would Hachette undermine the booksellers' incentive to promote its books?
In fact, Kashkashian also gives a perfect example of where the co-op funds created a hit for one debut author.
Comments to the post are enlightening as well.
As distribution methods morph beyond mere print (POD? Downloads? Ebooks vs. brick-and-mortar), the publisher's role is also changing. Merely printing the book and tossing them on a shelf without any promotion whatsoever,then taking back returns, isn't just a waste of time, money, and pulp–
It's a passe business model.
The publisher's new role will, and should, be that of promoter and brand builder.
Leaving that solely up to the writer -- or the booksellers (did someone say Amazon???) -- is one way to make yourself an obsolete component in a changing industry.
We have the music industry as an example of what can, and will, happen when technology leads and everyone (consumers, creators, distributors) but the bohemoth producing conglomerates follows.
Kash' blog post is great, so do read it,
PS: Catch me here, on TWITTER: http://twitter.com/JosieBrownCA