Publishers Squeezing Booksellers on Credit

Judith Rosen — Publishers Weekly, 4/9/2010 9:56:43 AM

Less than half-way through the American Bookseller Association’s 12-city spring booksellers forum tour, which it kicked off at CAMEX last month, one theme has started to emerge-concern about the credit squeeze.

During the question and answer session with ABA COO Len Vlahos at this week’s New England Independent Booksellers Association gathering at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, Willow Books & Cafe president David Didriksen said, “the biggest problem I have is the relationship with publishers’ credit departments. I actually had a major publisher hold up an order for $45.”

According to Vlahos, it’s not just New Englanders who are feeling the pain. “There’s a hue and cry from our membership,” he said. “Publishers are treating everybody as an identical risk.” In response, the ABA has set up a new subcommittee to work with publishers.

Noting that independents comprise 9% to 10% of the book market, Vlahos said, “our approach is to convince the publishers why they have to do better business with us.” He points to what happened in the music industry when bricks-and-mortar retailers crumbled in the face of digital downloads and little was done by the industry to shore them up. Roughly 2,300 music retailers went out of business between 2003 and 2008, including independents and chains like Tower and Virgin, said Vlahos. Sales continue to plummet because people have so few places to learn about music

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