Home > Uncategorized > When You’re Asked to Take a Title on Consignment

When You’re Asked to Take a Title on Consignment

The theory is simple.

Consignment titles require no investment on your part. The author is taking all the risk. So how can you refuse?

Even if you don’t pay upfront, consignment titles consume valuable shelf space. Unless you’ve clearly got a winner, the space used to feature such titles means another title in which you have made an investment is not going to be seen in that spot. And if their title is that good, then why not offer to simply buy the books upfront?

What you have to ask the author is, “What mechanism is in place that will direct people to this store to purchase this book?” Related, “How will people interested in this topic or this story come to seek out this title here?”

Often, the author has not thought that through. Authors operate by the mantra, “If you display it, they will buy.” But no matter how strong the titles on its left or its right, if it doesn’t have a compelling cover, people probably won’t give it a second look. What’s needed is the extra push from public appearances, TV/Radio interviews, newspaper publicity or social media.

There’s nothing wrong with telling an author, “When you’ve got a plan, give us another call.”

On the other hand, we have had a few offers where we’ve said, “We think this is a concept we can, at the very least, hand-sell to our customers, so rather than do all the consignment paperwork, what discount will you give us to buy ten copies upfront?”

  1. April 20, 2015 at 7:01 am

    Perhaps this should be asked of all publishers, not just the independent ones.

    There is generally no one in Canada responsible for marketing Christian resources in Canada – in print, radio or TV. And it’s killing the entire industry up here.

    U.S. Publishers pass on the responsibility for advertising to Canadian distributors. But the distributors excel at distribution to stores, not end-user marketing. So the distributors pass on the responsibility to retail stores, which obviously can’t afford mass media campaigns (especially regional ones) for any single new product.

    As a result, most Christians in Canada hear about new resources sporadically, and this gets reflected in the industry’s sales figures.

    Canada has only about a half-dozen regional Christian newspapers, a dozen or so major market radio stations, and three or four Christian TV channels. It should be a simple thing for U.S. publishers to extend their marketing networks north. It’s a relatively tiny increase to their current marketing efforts.

    Change will probably come only when one or two of the remaining distributors go out of business, and U.S. publishers have no choice but to assume Canadian marketing and distribution for themselves.

    • April 20, 2015 at 9:03 am

      I agree for the most part; however Graf-Martin does currently claim David C. Cook, Baker Book Group, Word Alive Press and Ravi Zacharias among their current clients.


      In addition to the regional newspapers, there is also Faith Today magazine and a number of denominational magazines such as The Salvationist, The Presbyterian Record, Alliance Life, The Banner (CRC), The Anglican, and The Pentecostal Testimony (rebranded as “T”), just to name a few, though some may not accept advertising.

  2. April 20, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Graf-Martin does great work (and they will be happy with they see the latest Christian Herald!)

    But in the majority of projects we’ve worked with them – from movie screenings to ministry promotions – they haven’t been the party responsible for paid advertising.

    I just can’t see Christian resource sales getting any better in Canada until someone with a plan starts asking people to buy them.

    And yes, the local denominational magazines do exist and cover their beats admirably. But I expect that most general Christian print advertising in the U.S. is placed first in wider-distribution magazines like Christianity Today and Charisma. It could just be my bias – given my job – but I’d expect that to be the case as well in Canada, especially as our population size is one-tenth of the U.S. and advertising a single new release product in dozens of smaller magazines would be cost-prohibitive.

    • April 20, 2015 at 10:22 am

      I’ve always felt that to a degree, when you’re selling a print product you should be doing print advertising.

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