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U.S. Publishers: Canada is a Different Market; Unique Culture

I’m reading an advance copy of a book right now that is certain to receive a good review on my other blog. I can think of various people I know who would enjoy reading this.

I’m not going to carry it in my store.

The reason — and I know I sound like the proverbial broken record — is that the first edition released in hardcover and this publisher chooses not to include Canada in the list of countries which get the international trade paperback edition (ITPE).

Canada is not the United States. I know that sounds obvious, but American publishers are oblivious. Here are some things they need to keep in mind:

  • Evangelical titles are never going to do as well here. For example, while the U.S. is religiously about 25% Catholic, Canada is about 50% Roman Catholic. But the number of people who would claim no religion at all is also much higher.
  • Canadians are not as free-spending as their U.S. counterparts. In economic terms, the velocity of money here is much slower.
  • Canadians are also much more price conscious. Go too much higher than the pricing sweet spot for a book, and you’ve lost the sale.
  • Canadian Christians are much slower to accept new authors, new concepts and new trends in the Church. The “buy-in” is harder to achieve, takes time, and is never as great.
  • Churches here are smaller. While about 25% of U.S. churches have less than a hundred adults present on a Sunday morning, in Canada it’s closer to 50%.

These factors — and others — combine to the point that when it comes to publishing culture, we’re more aligned with the consumer mindset in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

So publishers, your books are not going to do as well proportionately here as in the U.S. We offer you 1/10th of the population, but probably you’ll achieve about 1/20th or even 1/30th of your U.S. sales in this country.

However, when a year passes and you’re ready to do a trade paperback conversion (TPC) release, you’ll find you’ve lost momentum on the titles. The reviews, the social media, the buzz, etc., have all faded from view and from memory. Furthermore, you won’t get the spillover effect from people who bought the hardcovers, because they didn’t purchase them here.

Look publishers, you already print the ITPE editions. We go on the websites for Koorong in Australia and Eden Books in the UK and we know they exist.

Publishing marketers, are you allowed to do your job, or do you let literary agents call the shots? You need to stand up to them and tell them to allow the ITPEs in Canada.

Until this changes, you’re killing the exposure of your authors here. Waterbrook / Random House, Howard / Simon & Schuster, FaithWords / Hachette Book Group … this means you!

There was an element in this story’s first draft that I left out, but decided to return it here. If Dave Ramsey really wants to help people with their finances — and his appeal is to people who have reached some time of monetary crisis — the first thing he can do is release his books in paperback. That books like his signature Total Money Makeover and the new bestseller Smart Money, Smart Kids are sold at the price they are tells me that Ramsey is only concerned with helping himself with his finances. Unless something turns up on a remainder list, we don’t carry his clothbound titles.

  1. March 5, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Good tips both as a buyer and as an author. Thanks!!

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