Writers go undercover to trick publishers


Anonymous Patron writes "The Boston Globe: In yesterday's book world, no one except publisher and author -- and sometimes not even author -- knew how many copies of a book were sold. Sales figures were proprietary. Books were sold by thousands of small stores, which would order a dozen copies or fewer. Today bookselling is dominated by a handful of large outlets, notably Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon.com, and Books-a-Million, that make huge orders and keep detailed computer records. Also today there is Nielsen Bookscan, a national book-sales rating service by the company that tracks television viewership."


As the article mentions, the publishing industry today has a huge crisis...in the form of overstock returns. The big wholesalers sell big quantities to the chains and Amazon, and whatever doesn't sell gets returned to the publisher (often in less pristine condition than it went out, and frequently not even saleable). The phenomenon has driven many smaller publishing companies with niche or specialty titles into the ground. Too bad that the need for profit overwhelms the whole purpose of writing and publishing a book of quality.

When reading the blurb about not know ing how many books are sold, I though the article would be about publishers who screw over their authors on royalties.

When I worked in Phoenix a local author gave a tlak at the Library about how she got started. She started by writing romances. After a year or two she started getting copies of her books sent to her anonymously. The books were translations which she was never informed about and never paid for. She spoke to the publisher the first time and they blamed an accounting error. After a couple more instances she figured they were screwing her on purpose.

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