One goal your board of
directors chose as a priority this year was making people within and beyond the
industry see PMA as the voice of independent publishing and a catalyst for
change. As important as it is to continue our support of independent publishers
by educating and providing benefits and marketing opportunities, it is equally
if not even more important to make our voices heard in the world outside our
association. That is what will ultimately provide the avenue for constructive
and long-term change to benefit us all, industry-wide.
Here is an update on some of the
causes your association has taken a public stand on in recent months:
Advocacy Fund and AMS/PGW
happened: AMS Corporation, owner
of Publishers Group West book distributors, declared bankruptcy, withholding
payment from numerous independent publishers, including some of our members,
and denying those publishers access to their own inventory. Many of the
publishers were facing imminent financial ruin through no fault of their own.
your association did to help:
Director Terry Nathan was in almost daily contact with PMA’s attorney and the
affected publishers to determine how we could assist. As reported in both <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>PW Daily and <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>ForeWord This Week,
PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association, decided to begin the process
of creating a Publishers Advocacy Fund to assist in fighting for independent
As Terry Nathan pointed out in a
news release, “The publishing community as a whole is not served well when
smaller publishers suffer hardship and loss simply because they lack the
resources to defend themselves.” The reaction to that announcement from the
industry was overwhelmingly positive. Although we can’t know for certain, we
believe the public outcry was at least part of the reason that AMS was finally
ordered to pay and release the publishers from their contracts so they could
find distribution elsewhere.
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> A board committee is working on setting up the
parameters and guidelines for the administration of a Publishers Advocacy Fund.
The June PMA
Independent featured articles by board member David Cole and our
association’s attorney, Jonathan Kirsch, in “When Distributors Go Belly Up”;
Jonathan Kirsch also led a webinar in June for Publishing University Online
entitled “How to Protect Your Publishing Company from Distributor Bankruptcy.”
We will continue to monitor the distribution issue in general and protect our
membership through continuing education and action when it is appropriate.
Postal Rate Increases
happened: The United States Postal
Service raised all postage rates, but services used by publishers were hit
particularly hard—the cost to mail a one-pound package via Media Mail
rose 34 percent, and rates for bulk-mail services climbed as much as 40
your association did to help: We
sent out a call to action to the membership to join the Direct Marketing
Association in sending comments requesting reconsideration of the hike to the
Postal Service Governors via a Web link. We sent a news release to the media
detailing the financial implications for publishers and registering our strong
objection to the rate increases.
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> The June issue of the <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Independent featured information about
the postal increases and suggestions as to how we can cope with the higher cost
of mailing. As I write this, the USPS Rate Commission is still reconsidering
the rate hike on some second-class mail.
Sales of ARCs
happened: One of our board
members, Steve Carlson, learned that advance reading copies (ARCs), also known
as galleys or uncorrected proofs, were being repeatedly offered for sale on the
AbeBooks Web site. Galleys are never meant for sale—they are a work in
progress created only to give reviewers material to work from. Sales of ARCs
hurt publishers in a multitude of ways, not least because the publisher and
author receive no payment. Furthermore, these proofs compete with finished
books for sales, and a publisher’s reputation is at stake when an unfinished
product that may still include errors is perceived by the consumer as the final
your association did to help:
Terry Nathan sent a letter to AbeBooks requesting that it cease the sale of uncorrected
proofs and advance reading copies through its site, pointing out that Amazon
Marketplace explicitly forbids the sale of these items.
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> We will keep you posted as to the response from
AbeBooks. In the meantime, we are currently offering our membership a discount
on listings with AbeBooks.
And the Work Goes On
We have not heard the end of any
of these issues, nor will we stop arguing for resolutions that will benefit
you—no matter how long the process takes.
And speaking of benefits, as your
advocate, I would like to encourage you to investigate an exciting new
opportunity just unveiled at Publishing University—the Independent Book
Publishers Association Bestseller Awards Program. Like the music industry’s
Gold Record honor, the Bestseller Awards Program makes it possible for you to
recognize and publicize your bestselling titles’ sales achievements with a
handsome plaque featuring your book cover and the sales level that book has
Details are in this issue’s
Director’s Desk column by board member Rudy Shur. The program is available to
all independent publishers, but our members receive special pricing
consideration. Don’t miss the chance to have your sales milestones prominently
and proudly displayed on your office wall—a tangible marker of your
My virtual door is always open.
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