Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Publisher Goes Bankrupt

After 30-some years as one of the most respected Table Top Photographic Book publishers, Graphic Arts Publishing went belly up. Mike Campbell, the main marketing/sales guy, lamented it was a combination of the state of book publishing and the economy. Michael Powell, owner of Powell's Books, blames the demise on declining book sales, the difficult economy and fewer independent bookstores, which was "the bread and butter for them."

So what does this storm in the publishing world mean for my latest little book?
I can't see the whole picture yet for the waves.

The immediate consequences:
• I'm having troubles ordering the book. One Ingram (the giant distributor which bought part of Graphic Arts) representative told me, "all of the books in the warehouse were spoken for." Sounds as if there are no more books.
• I have to fill out a one-page Ingram form, which they are suppose to have emailed, so that I can even be on the list to order books. Then I get a 30-40% discount instead of the contracted 50%. Irrelevant if there are no books.
• Don't know the status of a second printing.

When I decided to go with Graphic Arts for Oregon The Taste of Wine, I knew they were on shaky soil. But Ingram–they must represent some 100 publishers–had just bought part of the company. I thought no problem.

Lesson learned:
• In the next book contract I need more than the standard "Failure to Perform" clause. I need to address belly upping. I think it's a trend for book publishing.
• My next books will have a strong web component. I love picture books. Stay tuned, two are grinding in the mill.

I would appreciate suggestions,
philosophical or practical.

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