Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Selling POD Books in Big Boxes

When I first started my print of demand (POD) publishing project with CreateSpace, I chose the most expensive approach they had which included what they called Expanded Distribution Channel and Pro Plan. By doing so, I was promised my book would be available to major online and offline retailers as well as libraries and academic institutions throughout the United States.
As it turns out the wording may be slightly misleading. Yes, Where Love Once Lived is available to offline retailers as long as they are willing to accept certain guidelines. Which, by the way, are guidelines they are not going to accept.
I happen to know the Community Relations Manager for the Barnes & Noble store nearest to me because he has come to our writers club meeting to sell books from time to time. So, I know he did his best when I asked about a book signing opportunity.
Here’s what he wrote to me.
Barnes & Noble policy states that in order to bring merchandise in for an author event, the title must be available from a wholesale distributor on a returnable basis. While I can order your book for an individual customer on a pre-paid basis, I cannot place an order for a quantity of this title because in the event that there are unsold copies, I cannot return them to a vendor for credit.
Barnes & Noble does not buy from individuals as vendors nor do we take merchandise on a consignment basis.
Also, your book does not have a retail price point printed anywhere on it. Even if I could bring this book into our store, it’s highly unlikely that people will buy something that doesn’t have a price on it.
I suggest you check with your publisher and see how much it will cost you to make this book returnable and to print a retail price point on it.
I didn’t ask CreateSpace about making the book returnable because I know that would be too costly. However, I did ask about adding the price to the book. It took three attempts to find out. They didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. Finally, I talked to someone on the phone and they checked with someone else who said they could add the price for $75. However, they would have to make the book unavailable for two to three weeks while it was being changed. Since I have a book signing ahead I decided to wait.
The price of the book couldn’t be set until the costs were determined. The costs couldn't be determined until the book was complete. Therefore, I didn’t know what price to put on the book until after it was printed. I shouldn’t have let that happened. But, in my defense, this was the first time I had done this and relied heavily on the expertise of the publisher. Too heavily, as it turns out.
As it turns out, I am the publisher, not CreateSpace, and I’ll know more about many things next time. And, who knows, maybe you, dear reader, are thinking about the POD approach and something I say here might help you.

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