Press For Change

Starting a publishing company is complicated. And slow. So we are starting a blog to keep our authors, our customers, our suppliers and the whole wide world appraised of what is happening.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Six months in

I am having so much fun and so much frustration starting this publishing company that I decided that I had to write a blog about the whole business of starting a small and different publishing company with almost no money and very little to offer the world (except hubris).

I have been quietly working away at this for over six months but it is only since October or so of 2004 that I have really been getting down to work.

For those who have no idea what this is all about, Press For Change Publishing LLC, is quietly starting up this month and hopes to have its first title printed by early February and officially launched in mid-April. Along the way we will talk about the process of publishing (which is very different than even five years ago) and the process of bookselling which is rapidly changing partly due to the change in publishing.

For example, we don't really intend to sell all that many books through major bookstores or even We hope to sell a few more than that through smaller independent bookstores, particularly those that have some kind of link with the titles and their authors. And we expect to make the majority of our sales directly. Before the Internet that would have been very unlikely if not impossible and even now most people instinctively feel that avoiding Border$ or Barne$ and Noble is a mistake. Far from it. In order to get a title into either of these places I have to go through a big distributor. They want a 55% discount off the list price of any title. Right off the top. Partly this is because booksellers expect a 40% discount off the top. That only leaves me 45% of the list price to pay the designers, printers, author royalties, marketing, general business expenses, etc. And for that they will give me a month to sell or return all the books.

You see, all books are sold to these bookstores on a sale-or-return basis. And they don't really care about the condition in which they return them. Typically returns have between 10% and 30% damaged copies. These conditions make it almost impossible for a startup publisher to succeed. Amazon isn't much better - you can list a book with them for the same 55% discount. But they at least wait to make the sale before getting you to ship it.

So, why am I getting into this? I will try to answer that next time...


Blogger Ellen said...

Looking forward to learning more!

January 18, 2005 at 9:17 AM  

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