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This is a consignment operation, which means that the publisher will:
a) own the stock and controls the rights to the books at all times
b) have last say on stocking and pricing levels
c) receive a much better return on UK sales than by selling rights, or from an arrangement which only repays at a fixed discount off the retail price
The overall cost of sales and distribution is covered by a charge on a percentage of net turnover (that is, total invoice value of sales, less the value of any credits). This charge is deducted from the publisher’s revenue.
The charge includes:
all sales commissions
sales management costs
distribution and warehouse costs
carriage costs on all despatches in the UK
Additional charges are only made for certain ancillary services, which are usually carried out at the publisher’s instruction, or (if not) which the publisher can easily avoid:
at the warehouse: despatch of free copies (for review, samples, consignment stock movements back to the publisher or to third parties), price or bar-code stickering, re-packing, shrinkwrapping, pulping, storage of large overstocks, etc
at the sales office: printing/photocopying sales material when advance covers and jackets have not been provided by the publisher. A summary of optional advertising, cataloguing and exhibition opportunities is listed in the Advertising & Exhibitions page of this website.
The “total invoice value of sales” is the retail price of the books, after the booksellers’ discounts have been deducted. Discounts vary from customer to customer, from 35% to 55% depending upon volume and the type of book being sold. Some books are sold at full price, and the publisher benefits from that high revenue.