follow-up to industry sea changes post

the essential kit

Following up on Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s industry sea changes post from last week: it’s fairly clear from responses that from outside the publishing industry (and indeed, perhaps from within it), KKR’s post is all but written in a foreign language. So while I do think it’s worth reading, I’ve summarized what seem to me the most relevant points in the common tongue. :)

Baker & Taylor and Ingrams (who are the two major book distributors in the US; Diamond, who distributes comics and magazines, is a very important but much smaller footprint distributor) have both removed the self-publishing section of their websites/ordering system, so all books are released system-wide, whether self-published or traditionally published.

They are also now offering to select bookstores (good customers who pay bills on time & order a lot) a 45% return on self-published books, rather than the previous 5% or 0% return. Furthermore, a bookstore can now return only one book, rather than the 5 that were previously necessary for B&T/Ingrams to accept a return.

The upshot of this is that books released through Amazon’s extended CreateSpace program are beginning to appear system-wide through B&T/Ingrams as soon as they’re released, and they may even be turning up on bookstore shelves. I’m not personally familiar enough with how a bookstore finds and determines what books to order to be sure how to get, say, NO DOMINION on their radar, but it appears that it is now possible to get print-on-demand, independent titles into the bookstores.

Now it’s a question of figuring out how to inform bookstores they need to be looking for the new CE Murphy books, apparently.

Another interesting and probably important detail in that blog is that returns, which were steady at 50% or higher for a Very Long Time, dropped by 27% by the end of 2012, which appears to reflect bookstores buying fewer copies and being able to order new ones for swift delivery when the first ones sell. Next week (or soon) she’s going to talk about how this affects print runs and a bunch of other things. If it’s another incoherent-to-outsiders post, and if people are interested, I’ll try to interpret it too.

All of this is relevant to the upcoming guest blogs from Judith Tarr that I’ll be posting this week, full of fascinating commentary about where the publishing industry was when she started, and where it is now, and how writers can respond to it.