The recent announcement that Borders will delaying paying some of its vendors means that Borders won’t be paying some of the very people who create the products—BOOKS—that Borders sells.
When the news first hit that Borders financial trouble had continued to deepen and that some vendors shouldn’t be expecting checks in the near future, Borders stock plunged 22% on the last day of trading for 2010 in the stock market.
What’s this mean for authors and publishers? First, be bloody careful who you sell your books to on consignment. The great majority of bookstores sell books on consignment—you sell and send to them at a discounted rate; they, in turn, pay you if sold, eventually. If they don’t sell, they send your books back. Hopefully, in a re-sellable condition (the savvy author/publisher puts that in writing up front). The financial problems of Borders is not new news … it has been in the book news circuit for years … most of us thought they wouldn’t make it through 2010. But, in the consignment business, deaths can be prolonged. For small press publishers, who are using distributors and wholesalers to rep their books to the bookstore world, make sure you have a discussion about the viability of their key accounts—Borders is certainly one. Start doing some homework. Google bookstores and bookstore chains that carry your books—information is on the Internet, a click away. If you are selling direct to a book store, Google away. Shorten your payment schedules—none of this six-month nonsense for returns. Remember, if you, as an author/publisher, desire to have your books in the bookstores, it’s your job to drive buyers there to buy them. Check on inventories. Make sure you are getting paid. Will Borders pay authors/publishers for books? Time will tell.