Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Barnes & Noble Angry at Not Being First in Line for New Book

This election is too important to wait around for traditional publishing lead times.

-Margo Baldwin, president and publisher, Chelsea Green

In Julie Bosman, "Early Sales of a Book on Obama Angers Stores," The New York Times, August 18, 2008

At the Democratic National Convention, the Chelsea Green book publishing company plans to distribute coupons for an discount on a pro-Obama book by Robert Kuttner. To get the book out by that time, the publisher decided to use Amazon's publisher print-on-deman technology. This approach meant, however, that traditional booksellers such as Barnes & Noble would have to wait a few weeks to get their regular shipments. Being put in second place angered Barnes & Noble, which canceled a 15,000 copy order for the book. Clearly, the bookstore chain is worried about the precedent that this two-step publication activity has for the public's awareness of the brick-and-mortar store as the most timely place to buy new titles. Is this incident just an aberration due to a tight publishing schedule around the convention (as Margo Baldwin argues)? Or is it another marker of the profound, long term changes that are affecting book publishing as digital technology spreads?

No comments: