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Thread: The book trade

  1. #1
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    Default The book trade

    This is just info for would-be authors and members here who would like to write their own books in future. The book trade is quite an interesting cartel in Singapore (and perhaps everywhere else as well - Will can enlighten us about the US market since he is a veteran author of books)

    For example, if the author plans to sell his book in the open market at $50, and hopes to sell the book at our major bookstore chains. The chains will not deal with an individual, so the author will be referred to a middleman know as a 'distributor'.

    The distributor then signs a contract with the author and then distributes the book to the bookstore chains. The industry standard is that the distributor expects a minimum of 60% discount off the recommended retain price of the book. So if an author wants to sell the book at $50, he will have to sell it to the distributor at $20. The distributor then sells the book to the bookstore chain at $30. And the book is retailed to buyers at $53.50 (inclusive of GST).

    This is an "industry standard" so there are usually no compromises. I'm sure someone like Benjamin, who works for a bookstore chain can attest to that.

    So...
    Khew SK
    Butterflies of Singapore BLOG
    Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try

  2. #2
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    Default

    Looks like better be a distributor or end seller than writing books!!

    Isn't this another form of monopoly??

    So......Can I set up a Pasar Malam( Malay for Nite Market) stall or a web base mail order and sell for your at $35??

    Sunny

    ~~When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going~~

    Sunny's Facebook on Butterflies!

    ~

  3. #3
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Commander View Post
    This is just info for would-be authors and members here who would like to write their own books in future. The book trade is quite an interesting cartel in Singapore (and perhaps everywhere else as well - Will can enlighten us about the US market since he is a veteran author of books)

    For example, if the author plans to sell his book in the open market at $50, and hopes to sell the book at our major bookstore chains. The chains will not deal with an individual, so the author will be referred to a middleman know as a 'distributor'.

    The distributor then signs a contract with the author and then distributes the book to the bookstore chains. The industry standard is that the distributor expects a minimum of 60% discount off the recommended retain price of the book. So if an author wants to sell the book at $50, he will have to sell it to the distributor at $20. The distributor then sells the book to the bookstore chain at $30. And the book is retailed to buyers at $53.50 (inclusive of GST).

    This is an "industry standard" so there are usually no compromises. I'm sure someone like Benjamin, who works for a bookstore chain can attest to that.

    So...
    Yes, this is what my merchandiser told me when I asked her about the possibility of selling the field guide in the store. From what I know, my store's minimum asking discount from distributors is 40% of the retail price on a one year returnable basis. Over this one year period, the store will be eligible to make a return for any unsold books to the distributor and like what Khew has mentioned if a book is priced at $50, $50 x 0.6 = $30.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Yes, when I asked the distributor, all he said was that "everyone needs to make a living". So he creams 20% off the author, and the bookstore creams another 40% off the author. So the poor author who wanted to sell his book at $50 ends up only getting $20.
    Khew SK
    Butterflies of Singapore BLOG
    Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try

  5. #5
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    Default

    And the measly $20 probably can't even cover the whole production cost.

  6. #6
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    Default

    Thanks for this. I may have to reconsider my plans for a Samui butterfly book.

  7. #7
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Painted Jezebel View Post
    Thanks for this. I may have to reconsider my plans for a Samui butterfly book.
    You should still press ahead. This monopoly only occurs as we don't have the resources/time to retail the book ourselves. If you have the time, and cut out the middlemen, then all these other hidden costs may be reduced.

    It's also probably cheaper to publish in Thailand as compared to Singapore. John, our bees/wasp expert said that it's a lot cheaper in Hong Kong too, when he published his recent book.

    So maybe there is still hope that you can get a book out soon.
    Khew SK
    Butterflies of Singapore BLOG
    Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try

  8. #8
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Commander View Post
    You should still press ahead. This monopoly only occurs as we don't have the resources/time to retail the book ourselves. If you have the time, and cut out the middlemen, then all these other hidden costs may be reduced.

    It's also probably cheaper to publish in Thailand as compared to Singapore. John, our bees/wasp expert said that it's a lot cheaper in Hong Kong too, when he published his recent book.

    So maybe there is still hope that you can get a book out soon.

    The cost of publishing/printing my book was indeed much lower than I initially expected, but then again my book is much thinner and less detailed than yours! I dread to think of the printing cost when I eventually publish a more detailed and concise book on HK's other bees and wasps.

    A distributor was also engaged to market my book to local bookstores, but many of the sales came from local book fairs, where I, along with the HK Entomological Society chairman (who helped greatly in all aspects of publishing and printing which I was of course clueless about) and others, marketed the books ourselves. Therefore I feel that some marketing also works wonders at getting back a good bit of the total cost.

  9. #9
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    Angry Book publishing...not terribly lucrative!

    All: Fortnately, each time I had a book published it was at the request of the publisher (Amherst Media). I've always enjoyed writing the books, but in terms of making lots of money: doesn't happen, at least not for the author. However, in fairness, I didn't take any risks and was not involved in the production, distribution, and sales. I do receive a royalty check twice a year and that is always welcome.

    I gave up trying to sell my books (I would be offered half price), but add into the sale the fact that I had to keep records and pay the Commonwealth of Virginia's sales taxes, it became rather a chore... especially since Amazon.com could sell the books at prices that were competitive to what I had to offer.

    Several colleagues recommended I look into on-line publishing where you simply past your book on a protected site, place the link to Paypal, and once paid the buyer can access and download your book. You obviously cannot charge a handsome price, but your involvement is minimal and you get paid. I'd suggest that as possibility for international sales of the Butterflies of Singapore book. Certainly worth looking into the pros and cons.

    William
    William B. Folsom

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