Sunday, July 17, 2005

Ouch.

There's a TV commercial playing out here for a closeouts store called Big Lots! (the exclamation mark is part of their name). And this week's special is...remaindered books. They show maybe a dozen paperback and hardcover books--romances, mysteries, thrillers, you name it (I don't think there was any SF shown, but that doesn't mean there wasn't any there).

Imagine you're the author of a book and you see a TV ad which essentially says (to those who understand how the publishing industry works): hey, your book was a drug on the market. As well to say, hey, your book is going to be used to wrap fish! Big Lots! isn't to blame--they're selling books the same way they sell anything else: Hey, it's cheap, come buy it! The publishers really aren't to blame: they have inventory they want to sell, and this is a way to do that. But still: ouch.

5 Comments:

Blogger Patrick Nielsen Hayden said...

Uh, not to gainsay your actual point, but in fact someone who actually "knows how the publishing industry works" would know that remaindering doesn't even remotely indicate that a book was a "drug on the market". Perfectly successful books get remaindered all the time. Indeed, remaindering doesn't even necessarily mean a book is out of print.

5:46 AM  
Anonymous L.N. Hammer said...

Time for a chorus of "The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered"?

---L.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

Yeah, Patrick, it was an overstatement. But I still would find it rather daunting to see my book on TV as part of a close out sale: "The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered, and Advertised on TV."

I think what I meant about "the way publishing works" when I posted that (last night, when I was clearly out of my mind after an heroically long weekend) was that to people who are pure consumers and see no difference (except price) between buying a book at full price and buying a book from the remainder table, might think, "Oh, good, a book by my favorite author, I must go pick it up!" But (as one who has handled the remainder lists) I would have a considerably more complex reaction.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Patrick Nielsen Hayden said...

I guess. To my mind, it all goes toward improving the particular book's bottom line. Which is a measurable plus for publisher and author alike, unlike sales of used copies, or multiple library checkouts--and I've got no problem with either of those.

Granted, a detailed understanding of this stuff does slightly undermine the immortal Clive James poem, which is a shame. On the other hand, James's true subject isn't remaindering, it's schadenfreude.

10:40 AM  

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