It appears that Chapters (Indigo in Canada) is repositioning itself as a “lifestyle store” for booklovers.”
Along with the various changes being implemented are a couple that will hammer authors like me hard:
There will be a greatly shortened shelf-life for books. If a book hasn’t been sold in 45 days, it will be returned to the publisher. This used to be 90 days. The change will be implemented on January 1 so it won’t affect the Christmas market but it will certainly hurt my sales, since my book won’t be out until February.
Publishers will have to pay a 4 per cent surcharge on the wholesale price of all books sold. This isn’t a handling charge but more like a success fee. For example, on The Beggar’s Opera, which is retailing for $ 24.00, Chapters will charge .96 cents per book on top of its cut.
All of this is going to hurt Canadian authors as well as publishers. The publishing world is already being squeezed by e-books; I’m sure Chapters must be hurting, too. But removing display space, selling more non-book products, and punishing publishers when their books actually sell, strikes me as a rather strange long-term strategy.
I suspect that these marketing decisions may boost Chapter’s short term bottom line, but I wonder about their long-term success.
The additional cost of selling may encourage publishers to jump on the e-book wagon and bypass stores like Chapters/Indigo altogether. As for authors, if publishers have to pay more to Chapters, expect it to be even harder than it already is to get published. And get ready for even lower advances and royalties.
And applying the law of unintended consequences, if publishers’ profits are being cut further, more of us will be driven into self-publishing and out of this whole loop altogether.
On the other hand, if the goal is to convert Chapters/Indigo into a gift store, being able to return one’s stock-in-trade after 45 days for a full refund and selling fewer books overall will create more space for all those toys, perfumes, and tchotchkes they want to sell instead.
Check out Penguin Canada’s book trailer for The Beggar’s Opera here! It’s pretty cool!