View Full Version : Barns & Noble

06-06-2007, 08:13 PM
Has anyone here heard of B & N doing this with a self-published title?

By self-publishedd I mean, not POD but truly self produced through Lightning Source.

B&N (apparently) automatically lists all new titles which appear on Books in Print, then offers them at a discount and collects pre-orders. Once B&N has collected a goodly number of pre-orders, they contact the author/publisher and strong-arm them into placing the book with a distributor (e.g. Ingram or Baker & Taylor), and selling it cheap through B&N. Or ... lose all of those customers which B & N has collected.

This seems strange to me.


06-06-2007, 08:32 PM
Has anyone here heard of B & N doing this with a self-published title?

By self-published I mean, not POD but truly self produced through Lightning Source. . . .
Lightning Source IS POD. It makes no sense to say "not POD" in the same sentence with "produced through Lightning Source."

Barnes & Noble can and does stock self-published/independently published books (but not POD books). Well-done self/independent publishing looks just like those from larger commercial publishing.

I am puzzled by what you describe. The publisher lists price and discount information, along with title, author, ISBN, subjects, and so on, in the Bowker Books in Print database. That information then flows to the trade. If the book is in Books in Print as a print-on-demand book, that is what will show in the B&N listing. (Code for POD, I was told by a B&N clerk, is "perfect," as in "perfect bound." Normal trade paperbacks are listed as "trade paperback," which might be shortened to "paperback" in the store's information. If the book is flagged as "perfect" -- i.e., POD--the store will not stock it, but can order copies for specific customers.)

It is for all practical purposes impossible to get POD books stocked in the bookstores other than occasional one-offs that might be done by local stores.


06-06-2007, 10:18 PM
Okay Ken, I miss spoke. LS is indeed a POD process and I'm fully aware of the attituge of bookstores when it comes to POD books.

I was clumsly in detailing the situation. The book in question is printed through a local printer which is set up to do either large batch printing or even small jobs "on-demand". We're not talking a big outfit here.

So the questions remains ,why B&N would go through all this trouble--unless it's somewhat automated? Is this an SOP for B&N?


06-06-2007, 10:48 PM
. . .So the questions remains, why B&N would go through all this trouble--unless it's somewhat automated? Is this an SOP for B&N?

Oh, I imagine much in the process is automated, such as the listings one finds on the B&N computer system. They glom that from the Books in Print database -- the info. flows right from BiP to the B&N system (likewise to the Borders system).

Allow me to recommend that you chat up staff and management of your local B&N store. Ask them how they operate. Bookstore clerks I have talked to at B&N and Borders have been very helpful.

You might also want to study a good book on self-publishing. Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual has a few pages on bookstore chains that might clarify.


Anthony Ravenscroft
06-07-2007, 10:09 AM
The story of B&N strongarming publishers sounds to me like an urban legend. I'd enjoy hearing some examples. Actually, it sounds like something Amazon.com could easily do, except that there's some faulty premises in the story.

I run a tiny publishing company. One of my first acts was to sever relations with Ingram because of their policies against small publishers. We're okay with B&T (& Quality & New Leaf), but the handful of B&N orders we get are ordered direct from us.

I can't see B&N "collecting preorders," because there are thousands of new ISBNs that go on sale every month; they might cherrypick the occasional dark-horse, but that's a lot of effort when they could more easily stock the latest rack of "Harry Potter" tie-ins & ripoffs.

06-07-2007, 02:30 PM
The B&N deal is a little more twisted than the initial post suggested. B&N owned half of iUniverse (a POD/selfpub house that uses Lightning Source like everyone else) ... but the stores scorn the whole process. One store rep even told me they outright "hated" iUniverse "and all that crap" when I was calling around trying to get a few books into local stores.

So, they own shares and disown the results. Odd partnership.

I agree with Anthony that there are now way too many titles to stock. Why would they bother filling a shelf with names nobody has heard of? Especially with some of the weird terms, high prices and low margins that POD/etc companies throw at them. Name recognition drives business, as much as struggling writers hate to admit it.

As Ken said, "all but impossible." Sometimes groups of POD authors can team up and do a little signing, but plenty of blogs show disappointing results.

BTW: iUniverse now calls themselves "Supported Self Publishing" and calls the B&N link a "strategic alliance." Grr.

06-07-2007, 04:23 PM
I'm working on getting more details.

As for the B&N iUniverse connection goes, I'm an iU author and I learned very quickly that these folks don't play well together. I was supremely disappointed when I learned that my book wasn't stocked by B&N and never would be. It had nothing to do with quality but rather name recognition and sales. I have two other books out via POD and I'm content with my online sales. I also have books in independent bookstores. All in all it's not bad.

Now back to the issue at hand. The more I think about it I'm getting a suspecion that someone is pulling my leg. If that's the case and I've been used to set people in this and other groups off like greyhounds after an artificial rabbit you can be sure someone will get a pranging.

06-07-2007, 07:20 PM
. . . I can't see B&N "collecting preorders,". . . .
I don't know about "collecting," but they certainly accept preorders.

I preordered two copies of Dandelion Through the Crack (to be published August 28) from B&N's website a week or two ago. The publisher now has a preorder/reservation option for the book (http://www.dandelionthroughthecrack.com) (autographed copies, in its case), but B&N offered it first.

At some point, presumably B&N will order books directly from Willow Valley Press or, maybe, via Baker & Taylor. (I don't know whether the book will be available via Ingram, but it should be via B&T.)

Nothing nefarious is going on. Dandelion is offered with normal trade discount, so B&N's website has it at a 20% discount (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=9780976269717&itm=1) from list (plus an additional 10% for its discount card holders). No "strongarming" is required. The book has normal trade discount specifically because the publisher wanted to be sure it would be available through trade channels as well as direct from the publisher.

Doubtless there are many examples. This is one that I know very well, as both author and publisher are friends of mine and I helped to divert the manuscript from PublishAmerica, which would have ruined it.