Something exciting is happening in the world of small presses. It’s called BentoNet, and it’s a way to purchase books online and collect from your local bookstore. My publisher, is among the first to join.
There aren’t too many participating bookstores as yet, but it really is early days. The point is that you can buy a title online via the BentoNet website and collect it from your local bookstore. How amazing is that! You’ll be paying the Recommended Retail Price (RRP) as set by the publisher and shipping is only a couple of bucks, about a 1/4 of standard postal rates.
BentoNet helps to give small presses a share of the market. Bookstores, swamped by the large press catalogues, don’t have the time or energy to check out the book catalogues of small presses. BentoNet gets the books published by small presses right under the bookstores’ noses. And of course the bookstore has made a sale.
Small presses using the ethical Print on Demand business model currently have to run at a loss to get their books stocked in bookstores, because traditional book distributors take such a huge % cut of the RRP. BentoNet gives small presses a chance to distribute their titles to customers via bookstores, keeping costs to a minimum.
The other thing most don’t know about the book industry is that bookstores run on a sale or return basis. Those unsold books, usually shop worn, are returned to the publisher and then pulped. It’s unethical and the only way to make the business model viable is for publishers to go for large print runs (so that the unit cost is small) and focus on best sellers to spread the risk.
Small presses can’t do a large print run, they’d go broke, and because small print runs and Print on Demand pushes up the unit cost, they can’t absorb the risk of the return of unsold books – it’s just too costly. They also don’t have the market clout to ram titles down our throats and make them bestsellers by swamping mainstream and social media.
If you are in with a bookstore, go nag them about this! Let’s make a revolution happen.
I sound like an advert, but no one is paying me to say this. I currently have 3 titles with Odyssey Books and a 4th due out next month. So call it enlightened self interest. All I know is that I’m really excited about this new venture. I hope it works.