Monday, January 22, 2007

Beware of the headhunter!

A few weeks ago I was talking to someone from one of the big five publishers and we got onto the subject of central scale-outs, where deals are made in smoke-filled rooms between publishers and bookselling chains. It's a simple enough process. We, the booksellers, agree to buy 2000 copies of a book in return for a better discount of 57% instead of the usual 48%. We use this extra margin to discount the selling price resulting in higher sales. Everyone's happy, except those authors whose books haven't been promoted.

It should be a fairly amicable process, but a few years ago the publisher had to deal with a buyer who was extremely difficult to work with. The buyer was generally disliked by most of the people she dealt with, but because she was a 'figure' in the book trade she was regarded as untouchable.

The publisher came up with a novel solution: they decide to poach her. The buyer was given an offer she couldn't refuse and happily jumped ship. Six months later they made her redundant. She couldn't go back into book retailing and no publisher would employ someone with her reputation, so that was the end of that.

This tactic was so successful that it was almost employed on at least one other occasion.


Andrew MishMash said...

Hi Steerforth

Pardon me for being a bit slow - my current period of economic sloth was preceeded by five years working largely by myself, away from corporate politics - but is this post "about someone"?

No! Really? But I thought he was fairly popular!

Tee Hee Hee!


Steerforth said...

It was a her, not a him and I don't think that there was ever any danger of her being described as popular.

More than that I cannot say.