Publishers' New Programs, Special Offers Aim to Help Indie Booksellers

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Looking to help booksellers weather the stalled economy and shrinking credit access, some publishers and distributors are offering new programs and favorable terms, including backlist specials, extended dating, and targeted promotional materials.

This past March, Candlewick launched a program to recognize independent booksellers' collective skill at handselling. The Candlewick Handselling Indie Recognition Program (CHIRP) provides discounts on rep-chosen titles, as well as shelf-talkers and tip cards.

“At its core, CHIRP is a program that salutes the fine art of handselling – which is what indies do best,” said Elise Supovitz, Candlewick's director of field sales. “We wanted to recognize that most important talent and give frontline booksellers the tools to successfully handsell more of the Candlewick books they love. Candlewick remains fully committed to supporting this important channel of our business with initiatives like CHIRP.”

For this fall, Candlewick field reps picked nine titles for the CHIRP program, including A Bedtime for Bear by Bonny Becker; Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness; Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon; and On the Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells. Booksellers can earn a 50 percent discount and 90-day dating on orders for 20-plus units of CHIRP books, to include a minimum of five titles. This offer is also good on reorders with the same minimums throughout the season. CHIRP titles also qualify for $150 additional co-op funds. Supovitz noted that eight of the nine fall CHIRP titles had been chosen by indie booksellers for the Fall 2010 Children's Indie Next List.

Approximately 300 indie bookstores have signed up for the CHIRP program, and its e-newsletter, CHIRP-mail, now has more than 600 subscribers. Among them is Angela Sherrill of 57th Street Books, who said that the CHIRP program is working well for the Chicago store.

Candlewick is also offering CHIRP participants a chance to win a scholarship to ABA's sixth Winter Institute, which will be held in Washington, D.C., in 2011. Booksellers can enter the drawing by signing up for CHIRP-mail, the program's e-newsletter. The winner will be drawn on November 15 from all entries received by November 1.

Perseus Books Group is currently running an anniversary promotion – a celebration of 60 years of publishing by Basic Books – through October 15. “We’re offering a very rich 60 percent discount on 60 of the best titles that Basic has published over the past six decades,” said Matty Goldberg, vice president, sales and marketing, at Perseus.

Starting September 1, Perseus will launch a general backlist stock offer that will run through the fall regional trade shows and end on November 1: a +3 percent offer, good for one order including Perseus Books Group imprints, PGW, and Consortium. Also running from September 1 through November 1 is a +5 percent offer on any published Doodles books.

“As to extended dating,” said Goldberg, “we’re looking at how we might test this, most likely in the 2011. I certainly understand the cash crunch that almost everyone in publishing/bookselling is under…. We’re trying to figure a way to balance those things in a way that’s equitable for all.”

Goldberg noted that Perseus offers targeted discounts, especially on backlist titles, and an extensive rep team. “For a company that is quite a bit smaller than one of the big six we have maintained a field force that is the same size as many of them and in some cases actually larger,” he said. “I consider our field organization to be one of the best around.” He also noted that “independents play a disproportionate role in making books, establishing backlist, and supporting the list.”

To aid retailers, “Perseus has almost by necessity had to refrain from the same old thinking and work outside the proverbial box,” said Goldberg. “PGW and Consortium and CDS, now Perseus Distribution, have all had to think progressively over the years. It’s part of life as a distributor.”

Workman Publishing has continually offered specials developed with independent booksellers in mind, including its Acorn program, which discounts more than 40 backlist titles. Backlist titles comprise about 80 percent of the publisher’s sales, and Workman recognizes the role of indie booksellers in their success.

“Designed specifically for independent booksellers, our Acorn offer is a special backlist promotion that offers very attractive terms on a selection of our strongest selling backlist titles,” said Workman Sales Director Steven Pace.

It’s been a popular program with indie booksellers. Mary Yockey of Anderson's Bookshops in Naperville, Illinois, said, “The Acorn program provides a great incentive to bring those backlist gems to the endcap displays, front counters, and eye-level shelf positions.”

Current Workman offers include:

  • Extended Dating: 120-day dating, free-freight, and extra discount on one order for 50-plus assorted backlist units and 25+ Acorn units. Expires 12/31/10.
  • Acorn Title Offer: 55 percent discount and free-freight on one order of 25+ assorted Acorn titles. Expires 12/31/10.
  • Assorted Backlist Special Offer: 90-day dating, free-freight, and 52 percent discount on any order for 100+ units of assorted backlist. Expires 12/31/10.

For more information on any of these special offers, booksellers are invited to contact their sales reps.