Last week I suggested that the supermarkets, among other market forces, would gradually bring about a reduction in the overall remuneration of writers -- however that remuneration was calculated, whether on a royalty basis or as a percentage of net receipts.
Well, some writers, pointing to their scars and bruises, would ruefully argue that such reductions have already been made, and I would not disagree. What I would say is that there is probably more to come.
Joel Rickett's latest missive on the current news from the publishing world (in the Guardian, via booktrade.info), reports that Tesco is running an ad campaign boasting about how it has driven book prices steadily downwards. (Tesco is, I think, the biggest UK supermarket chain and certainly makes massive profits.)
Tesco will runs ads in women's magazines saying the following: 'Books. Once upon a time they seemed pricey. So we decided to sell them cheaply. Er - the end.'
Lovely, isn't it? So short. So to the point. So, no doubt, effective.
The remaining small independent booksellers will not be pleased. In the UK (unlike the USA, I believe), publishers can give different discount deals to different customers. Thus the supermarkets are able to negotiate massive discounts on the retail price in return for massive purchases. Small bookshops, which buy perhaps six copies, can't get anything like as good a deal.
What this means is that it is sometimes cheaper (and quicker) for a small bookseller to buy stock from the local supermarket than it is for him to go through the usual trade channels.
Isn't the book trade fun? Who would want to work anywhere else?