Home > Uncategorized > Becoming an Advocate for Out of Print Titles

Becoming an Advocate for Out of Print Titles

When I worked on the wholesale side of things — with five different distributors — it was easy to think I knew everything and that store owners were sitting by their phones, mailboxes and fax machines waiting for the wisdom that we in wholesale could pass on to them, and by which their business prospects would change overnight.

In actual fact, all we had was product accumulating in the warehouse that we needed to get out the door. “We bought this in good faith;” we considered, “and now it’s your turn to buy it from us.”

But sometimes we got it wrong.

It’s also equally easy however for those of us in retail to think that our customer contact grants us 100% of the knowledge needed to be effective in our industry, and that publishers need only pay attention to the pearls of wisdom we are forwarding them — now it’s emails instead of faxes — in order for them to get their respective houses in order and provide the products the market really needs.

In fact, there is both: Supplier wisdom and retailer wisdom. This will always be, even when the paradigms of retail have altered even more than they have heretofore.  The two ‘wisdoms’ clash occasionally, and are especially prone to conflict when it comes to publisher decisions to remainder a title.

“Out of print? What were thinking? We still have high demand for that title!”

Or words to that effect.

Still, it’s frustrating when you’re trying to explain out-of-print status to a customer, especially when it’s actually a rather large handful of customers, and all of them very suddenly within a few weeks  even though none of them knows the others; as in the rather large handful of people looking for Powerlines (by Leona Choy, Christian Publications) a book about what classic Christian writers believed and taught about the Holy Spirit.

Or sometimes just a single customer, like the one who wants a dozen copies of Cancer and the Lord’s Prayer (by Greg Anderson, Meredith Books) a book about, well the title really says it.  I was able to get her two copies from a store with a rather sluggish stock turnover rate, but we’ve had a rather continuous string of requests for this one since it disappeared a couple of years ago.

Or the fiction series where book one and book three exist in massive quantities in every remainder warehouse in the continent, but customers are tripping over themselves at swap meets and yard sales and flea markets to find the elusive middle volume. When it comes to backlist, wasn’t print-on-demand designed for exactly that reason? And in this type of situation, trust me, the publishers know the demand exists; fiction readers can be very vocal.

…As the post header for this article indicates, I believe retailers need to make more of a racket when it comes to easing customer frustration. We need to track down who owns the rights, or who is in a capital position to buy reprint rights — at least for the CBA market — where the publisher has no further interest.

We need to at least take the few minutes it takes to draft a few letters and advocate for OP titles that deserve a second chance.

Because retailers have wisdom, too. 

What titles are your customers seeking that you’d love to see return to market? Do you think some publishers jump the remainder gun too quickly?

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  1. October 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm

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