Permanent Press Sees Green in Doris Buffett Biography

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Permanent Press has high hopes for its upcoming release of Giving It All Away: The Doris Buffett Story. "It's one of those things that could hit really big," said co-publisher Martin Shepard.

As a sign of its confidence -- and as part of a "green marketing plan" -- the press has decided to make the book available to all its accounts, including independent bookstores, on a nonreturnable basis only. The discount is 60 percent for a purchase of five or more copies.

Shepard said he believed that the higher-than-usual discount will give retailers more flexibility in pricing the books to meet customer demand. "I've always wanted to test the nonreturnable market, and this is a perfect book to start with," Shepard added.

Giving It All Away is a biography of Doris Buffett, philanthropist and sister of investor and Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren Buffett, who wrote the book's introduction. Shepard expects the Buffett name to draw national attention to the book. "I think it's going to be heavily publicized," he said.

Part of that publicity will come from the book's debut at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting at the beginning of May, an event known as "Woodstock for capitalists." The meeting brings more than 20,000 stockholders to Omaha, Nebraska, each year. Both Buffetts will be signing copies of the book at the 2010 meeting. (As in past years, Omaha independent The Bookworm will be the event's exclusive bookseller.)

Giving It All Away, with a 10,000 copy first printing, is a departure for Permanent Press, which is known for publishing literary fiction. But co-publisher Shepard is optimistic about the book's prospects, and he sees independent bookstores as partners in its success. "Independent stores are always good to us," he said. "Being a small press, we're all in favor of small stores." --Sarah Rettger