Posts Tagged ‘Canadian publishing industry’

Joyce Meyer’s Canadian Sales a Fraction of the Potential

Living Courageously - Joyce MeyerEvery time a new Joyce Meyer title releases in hardcover, I am reminded of the discussions I had with Hachette Book Group’s people in New York City about five years ago concerning the use of International Trade Paper Editions (ITPEs) in the Canadian Christian market. I don’t know who set up these talks, and of course it was all done by telephone, but I know one of the calls was nearly an hour in length as I explained how Thomas Nelson and Zondervan and a number of other publishers make it a regular practice to offer A-list titles in ITPE in the Canadian market, as they do in Europe and Australasia and South Africa.

The books do exist. Joyce Meyer’s forthcoming title is listed at Koorong at $18.99 Australian dollars and a paperback edition of You Can Begin Again is currently on sale there for $15.99 Australian.

My belief is that the U.S. first-edition hardcovers cut into the sales potential here in a big way. Yes, some people are willing to pay, but my guess is that this could be as little as a quarter (25%) of what the sales would be if the ITPEs were available. Of course, there are royalty issues and the whole problem whereby literary agents have deemed Canada simply an extension of the U.S. market, hence the price fluctuation with changing currency rates. But sales are sales, money talks, and I have a hard time believing that HBC would rather stand their ground and let sales dollars evaporate that do the logical thing.

Hachette Books, Joyce Meyer Ministries, if you’re reading this; you’re shooting yourselves in the foot. Canada is not the 51st state. This is its own market with its own spending patterns. Joyce, you have a reputation of having books that are always too expensive for many of the people you say your ministry exists to serve. It’s an absolute travesty.

And if asked, in my humble opinion, it’s a travesty on both sides of the border.

In the meantime, if you care, open the Canadian market to these titles. Better yet, pick just one of Joyce’s forthcoming titles and see the difference for yourselves. I dare you!

Canadian Customers Not Prepared To Pay More

February 20, 2014 3 comments

Canadian list prices

It’s not going to work this time.

The market has changed. Competition is fierce. Customers are much more price-conscious. Most important, Canadian customers have become accustomed to seeing US/Canadian pricing which is approximately the same.

The frightening thing about the picture above is that the wholesaler has made no effort to cover up the U.S. price, which is what I think I might have done in the same circumstances. They don’t see the problem; they don’t see an issue; they don’t have to deal face-to-face with customers.

Canadian distributors are caught in a situation devised by U.S. literary agents — i.e. lawyers in disguise — who decided a long time ago consider Canada part of the U.S. market insofar as it applies to royalties. We’re just another territory like Puerto Rico or American Samoa. So every book sold here that’s of U.S. origin has a price that rises and falls with the value of the Canadian dollar. (Or more accurately, the  difference in value; many of the so-called ‘drops’ in the CDN buck are actually bolstered investor confidence in the U.S. economy.)

Customers are caught in the middle of a war they don’t know exists.

So why don’t distributors here speak up on behalf of retailers and consumers? If there is an impact to the present price increases here — and I believe there will be a measurable one this time around — they may be forced to.

Yes, Canada has a more robust economy. Yes, there is a sense in which retailers here need higher MSRPs in order to cover higher rents and higher labour costs. But all the customer sees, when they look at the example pictured above is, “Why do I have to pay $3.50 more?” That’s 22% (21.8) and as of noon today, buying a US dollar costs $1.135 (posted rate of 1.11 plus 2.5% bank charge).

The consumer thinks, “Dollar is 11% higher; book is 22% higher.”

The Canadian dollar has actually been rising on five of the last six trading days. (It’s down today, though.) Did suppliers overreact by switching to a 20% conversion? How did they all (initially) pick that same number? (David C. Cook backed off its original conversion, $14.99 books that had jumped to $17.99 are now at $17.50.)

We just don’t need this. Not now. The timing is not good.

We need a Canadian market price.

We need Canadian distributors to speak up for us and demand a fixed Canadian market price.

Price Guns: Because “Priceless” Isn’t Always a Good Thing

I’ve known people — and had employees — who got confused between cost prices and retail prices; but here in Canada the complexity doubles because we basically work in two different currencies. Probably well over 90% of everything we sell originates in the United States, and while some publishers are establishing Canadian retail prices, re-pricing product is a fact of daily retail life north of the 49th, and the clicking of price guns is like background music in our main store.

We actually keep four price guns loaded at all times, and by comparison, our stores are very small:

  • a two-line, white label gun for regular price product, date codes and additional special codes when needed
  • a two-line, red label gun with original list price on top, sale price on the bottom and room for a date code in the upper right
  • a one-line, yellow label gun for small items where the large price tag would be too intrusive on the product and date codes don’t matter
  • a one-line, white label gun with no pricing, just a constantly increasing number that is applied to giftware  pieces and the boxes that match up to them

For nearly two decades, we’ve always used the Contact line of price guns. If you don’t have one (or four!) I want to introduce you to our friends at Millennium Marking, just east of Toronto who can set you up.  You can link to the image at the top for their home page, or click the image at right to go direct to a two-line starter kit that is a must-have for even the very smallest store. If you’re using hand-written stickers or your price gun has reached the point where you can’t tell a ‘3’ from an ‘8’ or a ‘2’ from a ‘7,’ then make today the day to upgrade.

Canadian Dollar Loses 2.5 cents in 28 hours

From noon Wednesday to closing Thursday, just over 28 hours, the Canadian dollar dropped from 0.9741 to 0.9503, a drop of almost two and a half cents.  Have we seen the dollar’s current peak?

Although our Canadian book industry is made up of businesses that are net-importers, the concern of net-exporters in this Globe and Mail piece from Wednesday speaks to the concern we all share:

Forget rising interest rates. Exchange-rate fluctuations are the top concern among Canadian exporters for the coming months, a survey showed Wednesday.    [continue reading here…]

The biggest challenge facing stores (somewhat) and distributors (in a major way) is that the day the shipments are delivered is not always the same day that U.S. distributors and publishers are paid.   Most of us work on 30-day accounts, and if payment is by credit card, have no control over whether or not payment is on a “good” day or a “bad” day vis-a-vis the exchange rate.

But for wholesale distributors, arrangements are often struck on the basis of net 60, net 90 or even net 120.    It’s fairly impossible for a distributor to know what the rate might be when they make their payment, but if posted Canadian retail prices aren’t flexible or dynamic, some retailers forsake loyalties and flee to U.S. distributors.

This situation isn’t being lost on the Canadian distributors however, and in a future item here at Christian BookShopTalk, we’ll look at the difference between U.S. companies selling you the odd book directly, versus the issue of them soliciting sales of items for which a Canadian distributor has established Canadian rights.

Track the dollar’s progress (or retreat) daily at this Bank of Canada official site.