Sunday, April 30, 2023

You'd think the biggest publisher in the world would have its act together.

Ever since I got an account with Penguin Random House, I've been trying to figure out a formula for reordering. I thought that eventually I'd figure out a time of the week to order, which would turn into a predictable time of arrival.

But no matter how many variations I've attempted, none have worked. 

I made an order from PRH two weeks ago and there is still no scheduled arrival date. Waiting more than two weeks in this modern world is ridiculous. Absolutely no other wholesaler I deal with takes more than a week. It's inexplicable.

Sometimes I get deliveries from orders that I made a week after earlier delinquent orders. Same damn warehouses. How does that happen? 

The other problem is being able to schedule stocking the books. Every big order takes most of a day to put on the shelves. It would be great to have a DAY when that happens. But with PRH, books arrive willy-nilly. A single order could be split into three or four shipments arriving on different days.

Thing is, PRH gives me a 10% better discount. That's hard to pass up. It has kept them in the game.

On the other hand, Ingram delivers in two days. Completely reliable and predictable.

Over the years I've often chosen the more reliable, if slightly more expensive option. In fact, I could make a pretty good case that choosing to do so has helped us survive. All the way back to sports cards where I made an early decision to order  lower discounts from a middle man, in exchange for being able to predict when and how much would arrive.

It's not always the option. I used to get fast shipments from Diamond so that I could brag, "I'll have that for you in 3 days." But eventually, the extra shipping costs became prohibitive.

Back to PRH. 

Last Christmas I decided that I simply couldn't wait two weeks for books to show up when the Christmas season is only about three or four weeks long in the first place. 

It didn't seem to hurt.

I'm going to make the same choice for summer. Starting in June, I'll be ordering twice a week from Ingram. I won't have to buy more than one or two copies of most books since I'll have them back in stock so quickly. I will forego the extra 10% in exchange for availability and predictability. 

I'll order books from PRH that Ingram is out of stock of and/or comes from the secondary warehouse, which takes an extra week.

On particularly hot titles, I'll order a copy from Ingram and perhaps a backup copy from PRH. But any way you look at it, this is going to be thousands of dollars per month--perhaps tens of thousands of dollars--of book orders going to Ingram instead of PRH. I'm sure that isn't enough to change PRH's mind about how they do business.

But I can't be the only one.

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