The nitty gritty of publishing co-op

By Carmen Comment

One of the not-so-kept secrets of the industry is that those books you see on the tables at Barnes & Noble or Borders (or in the UK, Waterstone’s, Ottakar’s and Borders)? The publisher paid for placement. And in a lengthy piece in the Sunday Times, Robert Winnett & Holly Watt, they reveal exactly how much publishers are expected to pay: £50,000 a week per book for a place.

A director of one leading publisher said: “If you pay this fee in December your book will be a bestseller. But only a handful of the biggest publishers can now afford the fees so the book charts are totally skewed.” The practice was first exposed five years ago but now the consensus is that it’s “getting out of hand”, especially when deep discounting is factored into the equation.

A spokeswoman for WH Smith confirmed last week that publishers paid for endorsements. “The publishers present their books to us and we present our packages,” she said. “The purpose is to drive sales for customers. We negotiate who takes the places in the adult gold scheme which is over-subscribed. This is standard across the book industry.” Which may explain why one publisher claimed that he had books “recommended” and positively reviewed in marketing literature by bookshops before the books had even been read….