Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Special Orders: Why You Have To Pay In Advance

Suppose that a customer walks into a bookshop and asks the bookseller to order her a copy of a book that the bookseller has never heard of: and that when the bookseller looks the book up, he finds that it was published by a vanity publisher which is notorious for publishing terrible books at horrible prices. What do you think he's going to do?

The well-informed bookseller is going to demand that payment is made for the book before he actually orders it—otherwise the book is likely to never be collected and could end up sitting on the shelves for years, at the bookseller's expense.

You can read about just such a case here.


Sally Zigmond said...

Very true. But in many cases, the bookshop will not even order one individual customer order in the first place because such publishers do not have a distribution or sale and return agreement in place with the bookshop. (It's all there on the database, believe me.) And don't harangue the poor assistant. If she orders she'll get an irate manager bearing down on her and someone, probably her, will have to sort out the messy paperwork.

Jane Smith said...

Sally, you're right, of course. An ISBN will get the book listed on Gardners' website and so on, but just because it appears there doesn't mean it's orderable--if the publisher hasn't set any terms with Gardners then Gardners might not be able to get hold of it at all without losing money and so even if the order was placed, it wouldn't be fulfilled.

Especially if the sales assistant was particularly stroppy.