Thursday, October 14, 2010

Is This Any Way To Run A Business?

I'm a librarian. Every so often I choose some Canadian books for our collection. About a month ago, someone from a small press I will not name sent an email to my director who forwarded the email to me. The person had checked our catalog and seen that while we had some books by one of their authors, we didn't have a book by this author from this publisher. The email suggested that we should correct that. And we will. What I don't understand is the economics involved. Someone had to spend the time to a) find our catalog, b) search the catalog, c) find my director's email and d) send the email. The goal of this effort was to get us to order a 13 dollar book. We're not going to order it directly from the publisher - because if we did that we'd drown in invoices. We'll order it from a wholesaler or a big bookstore. So the publisher's going to get a dollar for all this work. My guess: either the work was done by an unpaid intern or done by an employee whose salary is regarded as a sunk cost. I know no one runs a small press to make money, but I can't see how handselling single copies to libraries helps.