June 9, 2005
News & Opinion: Publishing News
There have been some interesting stories in the news about publishing lately. Jeffery Trachtenberg had has two great articles in the Wall Street Journal.
The first article ran Friday and was about the vicious cycle of returns. Bookstores have the ability to return books back to the publishers and be refunded their money. This simple idea creates all sorts of inefficiencies. Books get shipped all over the country from publishers to distribution centers to stores and back to distribution centers. It is then not unusual for a third party to buy the books and sell them back to the stores at a steep discount.
This is something that we don't deal with much. 800-CEO-READ is different in that we really don't carry inventory and that when we do buy books, we often buy them as nonreturnable. This ends up as a cleaner sale for the publisher and in return we get a steeper discount on the books we buy.
The second article ran yesterday. Dunn & Co. in Clinton, Massachusetts has built a whole business around repairing books. If there is a problem during production or an editor missed something, it is actually cheaper cut the page out and "tip" in new pages versus reprinting the book. They do $7 million a year and are growing at a steady 5% a year.
I am always amazed at the things people can get paid to do.