To help booksellers better understand the financial realities of their colleagues on the publishing side, the American Booksellers Association is sponsoring a session at all eight fall regionals titled, “The Economics of Publishing and How They Impact Booksellers.”
“One of the challenges of this business is that we don’t understand each other’s enterprises,” says Bloomsbury USA publishing director George Gibson. “Part of the education of a bookseller is to understand the economics of publishing.”
Gibson is one of three publishing executives who volunteered to host the sessions; he will speak at NAIBA, NEIBA, and SIBA. Workman sales director Steven Pace will give a similar presentation at MPIBA, NCIPBA, and PNBA, and Matty Goldberg, president of publishing, client, and sales development at Perseus, will speak at Heartland and SCIBA.
Gibson plans to walk booksellers through a standard Bloomsbury profit-and-loss statement so they can see firsthand how publishers decide whether to publish a given book and how to price it. “You can explain every step of the process of publishing a book, [including] the decisions publishers make, through the P&L.” The P&L statement for each book is based on projected sales, the author’s advance, and the list price, as well as other factors, such as the costs of manufacturing, distributing, and marketing the book. Anticipated return rates, reprints, and subsidiary rights are also taken into consideration. And, in recent years, the process of publishing books in digital formats has become an important part of the mix.
For the presentation, Gibson plans to select a P&L for a frontlist title that will be on bookstore shelves this fall. He acknowledges that he may have to fudge some numbers that are proprietary. Still, he promises that “there will be enough reality there that booksellers will get a clear picture.”
Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association (GLIBA) executive director Deb Leonard, who handles scheduling at the Heartland Fall Forum, anticipates that Gibson’s session will benefit “new and newish” indie booksellers in particular. They are especially important in her region, which added 19 member stores since last year’s show. “Most booksellers I know didn’t take business classes in high school or college and aren’t thinking of the business part when they first go into it,” she says. “This is something you must have. If you’re not looking at the financial pieces, you won’t stay in business very long.” Leonard regards it as essential for booksellers to understand “where the money is coming from and where it’s going” at their stores, and at their primary suppliers.
For his part, ABA CEO Oren Teicher is excited to offer this educational program to the regional associations. “We believe that the interdependence of all of us in this business is even more apparent today, and it is important information for booksellers to have,” he says. It’s so important that the association plans to host a similar session on the economics of bookselling for publishers at next year’s Winter Institute.
Bloomsbury USA publishing director George Gibson will speak at NAIBA, NEIBA, and SIBA. Workman Publishing sales director Steven Pace will speak at MPIBA, NCIBA. and PNBA.
Matty Goldberg, president of publishing, client, and sales development at Perseus Books Group will speak at Heartland and SCIBA.