Christmas Sales at Bookstores.
Before I get to the "Book Churning" part, here are the bookstore results for Christmas.
From the ICV2 site:
Barnes & Noble's Holiday Sales Drop
"Barnes & Noble, the nation’s largest bookselling chain, announced today that its sales for November and December were down 5.2% over the same period in 2007. Comparable store sales were down 7.7%..."
"While Barnes & Noble’s holiday sales were nothing to write home up about, they were considerably better than those of its chief competitor, Borders, which saw its holiday sales drop 11.7% and same store sales for the Border Superstores decline 14.4%..."
"The most negative note in B& N’s holiday sales report was the news that holiday sales for the company’s online operations declined 11% versus 2007 during a season in which online competitor Amazon is expected to report robust holiday sales. Barnes & Noble reports that at year’s end, it had $275 million in cash on hand and no borrowings under its $850 million revolving credit facility."
We've hired a new management team!
It's hard to see how Borders is going to come out of this. They tried to sell last year when they weren't so far down, and when the economy wasn't in quite so dire shape. Like Gottshalks' hoping a Chinese finance company will come to their rescue, this all seems unlikely. Barnes and Noble has stayed a little further ahead of the bear.
Anyway, the crux of this is that the Publishing Industry is also suffering. There are a couple of funny articles about how editors and publishers can't go on Euro junkets or have to eat in less than 3 star restaurants, or have to --- horrors!-- take meetings at their desk.
But there are also stories of publishers actually not accepting new manuscripts, which as someone else pointed out is like a butcher not accepting meat.
Publishers on the ropes.
I don't feel sorry for them in the slightest. What the hell did they think was going to happen? They had 7500 independent bookstores they more or less heaved overboard in favor of the Big Two. If they think Amazon will treat them any better, they're totally delusional.
Comic publishers following them off the cliff.
One of the more irksome things lately has been the clamoring of independent comic publishers for the death of comic shops. "They don't carry out stuff! Our future is with the bookstores!"
Most of this was predicated on the fact that Manga was selling so well at the big stores.
Because it was new.
And it has started to fade.
Barnes and Noble is only going to carry best-sellers, guys. Maybe we small comic shops aren't what you hoped for, but I still think you might be better off to keep trying.
See -- we've been through this before, back in the old days.
From the GalleyCat website. (Highlighting is mine.)
"On Tuesday, Jasmine-Jade Enterprises... filed a lawsuit against the bookstore chain seeking $1 million in damages stemming from what Jasmine-Jade alleges were deliberately "excessive" orders of their books..."
"CEO Patricia Marks described Borders's alleged ordering of more books than it planned to sell, which the publisher claims was intended to " reduce the amount owed [Jasmine-Jade] and produce a credit balance in the account," as "churning." She added, "It's crippling the industry. It is especially hard on small publishers, who can't absorb the staggering costs." You may recall that when Impetus Press was forced to close last fall, the independent publishing company cited the return fees charged by their distributor as the leading cause of their financial downfall, and specifically mentioned Borders as an outlet that was returning substantial numbers of books. You may also recall another book distributor's warning to indie publishers that Borders was anticipating "excessive returns" in the last months of 2008."
No Returns. It worked for comics.
My understanding of the comic biz is that the same thing happened in the mid to late '70's, on the part of newstands. They were getting comics in, tearing of the covers immediately, and sending them back for credit.
The comic industry was on the verge of collapse when an independent show dealer named Phil Seuling approached Marvel and DC and made a deal. He would buy comics from them without returns, but with a higher discount.
Thus Pegasus Books exists, and so does every other comic shop, because of a different model.
I wonder what would happen to B & N and Borders and Amazon if they actually had to BUY THE FRIGGING BOOKS! Might be a bit harder, they might be a bit more circumspect, and independent bookstores might have a chance to come back.
(Ironically, I'm sure the small stores would scream the loudest, but...well, it worked for comics....)
4 days ago