The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Publisher’s Plans Anger Bookstores

Posted on: January 11, 2007

If this deal goes through as is I will no longer buy books from Chapters.

A pilot marketing project would give the bulk of its budget to the Chapters/Indigo chain, independent bookstores complain

From Thursday’s Globe and Mail

Representatives of a consortium of six medium-sized Canadian-owned publishers are scheduled to meet today in Toronto with members of the Canadian Booksellers Association to try to resolve a dispute over a controversial book-marketing “pilot project” scheduled to start next month and largely targeting Chapters/Indigo stores.

The $120,000 scheme by the consortium — whose members are McArthur & Co., McClelland & Stewart, Raincoast Books, House of Anansi Press, Cormorant Books and Thomas Allen Publishers — would put themed displays of the publishers’ books in high-traffic areas in Chapter/Indigo outlets on four separate occasions throughout the year.

Five or six backlist titles from each of the publishers would be featured at any one time, for a duration of at least four weeks, with Chapters/Indigo ordering as many as 3,000 copies of each title. Chapters/Indigo representatives will choose the books to be presented from lists supplied by the publishers.

Almost 70 per cent of the $120,000 would be used to purchase ads in various Chapters/Indigo publications and on its website, while the balance would be used for advertisements in Canadian newspapers.

The plan by the newly formed More Canada Marketing consortium has raised the ire of some of Canada’s independent booksellers not only because of its focus, for 2007 at least, on 90 large-format Chapters and Indigo outlets — the independents’ biggest competitors — but because the consortium is hoping to get money from the federal and Ontario governments to make it happen.

One of the key figures in the consortium, McArthur and Co. founder and president Kim McArthur of Toronto, is unapologetic about the scheme, or at least its goal.

Canadian-owned publishers have drastically declined in number in the past 10 years, she said last week, and those remaining lack the resources of foreign-owned firms such as Random House of Canada and Penguin Canada.

Hence, the need for government support “for Canadian titles from Canadian-owned firms.” As for the emphasis on the Chapters/Indigo stores owned by Indigo Books & Music, “we can’t help it that Indigo is such a big part of our market.” Indeed, McArthur estimated the company, with its 230-plus stores nationwide, “accounts for 70 per cent of our business.” A pilot project “has to start somewhere, and why shouldn’t it be with a national retailer?”

This “collaborative effort,” as Sorya Gaulin, Indigo’s vice-president of public relations, calls it, is the result of a meeting McArthur had last January with Indigo founder and CEO Heather Reisman and Joel Silver, the chain’s head of print procurement. McArthur told Reisman that she was worried about the “ghastly” number of returns Canadian publishers were taking from Indigo and how these publishers needed some sort of compensatory regime because “we don’t have the balancing effect of something like The Da Vinci Code to keep up our revenue stream.”

___

Here is the rest of the article. I don’t pay taxes (yet) but the idea that these publishers want taxpayers money to channel their books into a single retail store in Canada seems rather ludicrous. Seriously? Seriously.

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8 Responses to "Publisher’s Plans Anger Bookstores"

I’m torn! I want there to be Canadian Book Publishers owned by Canadians but I hate the thought of my taxes going towards supporting them! They already get my dollars when I purchase. Sigh.

I just don’t think, based on the scrappy bit of info in the article, that this is much of a sound plan much less it being worthy of tax dollars. Exactly how productive will this move, that is no more than an expanded “Special Placement” plan, actually be if they’re still getting “ghastly” high returns? Where’s the innovation, what’s the difference, how is this going to pull people into stores?

And on top of that leaving out independents?

I suppose this is just a way of levelling the playing field. The big publishers have big promotion budgets, so the mid-sized publishers are looking for a way to get noticed, and the most efficient way is to work with the biggest retailer. It’s business. But I wonder if there is an underlying problem of the market just being too saturated–too many books for too few customers.

It’s bad business as far as I can tell with no eye on the long term. It’s not even a plan to revive the industry it’s a glorified government funding prominent placing in Chapters. Exactly how will the sector, in the long run, be helped by pushing out independents. They think Chapters is gonna care a hoot about Anansi Press? Or Raincoast except when they distribute Harry Potter?

Yeah, I’m really not liking the sound of it either. Although it doesn’t always work out, I try and avoid buying at Chapters in order to try and support the independents, so this has me wrinkling my nose. It “just be business” but it still bites.

there was a huge lawsuit about this kind of thing here in the states a few years back. the independents won.

Another intrusion of the big companies at the corporate welfare trough. If they can’t survive in business, perhaps they should get out.
Too much of our tax dollars are already wasted on so-called private enterprise.
This is a foolish plan.

Tryphaena I support the local independents too. With my book buying really I have to spread it out among Chapters, the independent and two or three used bookstores. Ha! Not to mention Book Closeouts online which sells remaindered books.

Lotusgreen that’s heartening news! I’ll have to google it, see if I can get some print outs and hand it to the local indie manager when I go there this weekend.

go1c you won’t get any arguments from me there. It’s aggravating that the plan would be formulated excluding the independents but overall, as presented in the article, it’s a bad, bad plan period.

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