Thursday, November 5, 2009

Readers as Collateral Damage in the Bestseller Price Wars?

ComicsPRO to join the ABA in letters to the DOJ regarding the Bestseller Price War

Many of you are already aware that the American Booksellers Association (ABA) submitted a letter to the US Department of Justice, requesting that they investigate the possibly illegal predatory pricing practises going on between Wal-Mart, Amazon and Target as they heavily discount certain hardback bestsellers. On November 2nd, ComicsPRO also sent a letter to the DOJ indicating similar concerns. ComicsPRO is a trade organisation that represents direct-market comic book retailers.

In addition to agreeing with the ABA that "the practices of,, and to offer bestselling hardcover books for sale at prices well below the wholesale cost renders independent booksellers unable to compete and devalues the books in the eyes of consumers." ComicsPRO believes that the practices will affect comic books "as substantially as it affects the traditional book trade, and extends to the sale of graphic novels."

The ABA letter has been discussed a great deal in the media - for those of you interested in the details, a copy can be found here.

My personal opinion as a bookseller is that this price war is not sustainable and will eventually shrink the pool of available publishers and authors. Publishers pay attention to what sells - and if all that is selling are the 5-10 different $8.99-priced titles, they won't accept or print the new authors. They can't afford to. So we get a reduction in titles, a reduction in authors, and
eventually a reduction in publishers.

I ALREADY have issues obtaining copies of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series for his loyal Baltimore-area fans. Princess of Mars seems to be the only title that gets re-printed...the rest are either older 'new' books or only available as 'used' books. I cannot imagine how much worse this could get if the book of new titles shrinks. I can see readers trying to find their favorite authors - and not finding them at anything resembling less than a mortgage payment.

I hope this situation gets sorted out before too much damage is done.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree, it's not sustainable.