The practice of demanding that publishers send cash to bookstores along with the books they wish to sell seems to be rapidly spreading. Word comes from Finland that the largest bookstore chain there is adopting the Waterstone's "pay or perish" scheme.
In an attempt to maximise their profits, some bookstores have started to put price tags on their display space even in Finland, following the example set by Waterstone's, the largest bookstore chain in Britain....
For example, Suomalainen Kirjakauppa, the largest Finnish bookstore chain, is selling prominent display spots to publishers in the same way as it is selling them advertising space. Premium promotion spaces include for instance the reservation of a front-of-store table or a display window at each outlet. Another alternative is to buy a display stand outside a shop....
"The promotion spaces at our stores are not automatically subject to a charge. We discuss them separately with publishers", notes Director Kristiina Rantanen, who is in charge of purchasing at Suomalainen Kirjakauppa.
However, certain premium spots have definite prices. For example, the hiring of a display spot for two weeks at the bookstore’s outlet in the Kamppi shopping centre cost EUR 700 in 2006.
Other chains have not taken up similar charges as yet. However, for example the Academic Bookstore (Akateeminen Kirjakauppa), which is part of Stockmann, does not regard the idea as out of the question.
"If the publishers start to prioritize online stores as distribution channels, I see no reason why we should not set a price on our display spots.
Suomalainen Kirjakauppa, with its 62 outlets, is the biggest bookstore chain in Finland, and some individuals interviewed by the paper said they were afraid of potential retaliation by the retailer.Surely, this is headed to North America if it hasn't already arrived. Does anyone know if Barnes & Noble and Borders demand cash for store displays or even for just having books added to the shelves? This may turn into a cash cow for bookstores but it is destined to limit the choice for book buyers because only the biggest and most financially healthy publishers are going to be able to come up with this kind of money. This is a real threat to the existence of those small publishers who publish more than just the mainstream fiction that can be found at my local grocery store.
The publishers feel that the new marketing practice is part of the development pursued by bookstores in order to minimise their risks and to shift the responsibility for sales on to the publishers.
So now this scheme has spread from the U.K. to Australia and Finland. Not good.