Margins and Remainders

Posted on March 25, 2010. Filed under: Books, Musings, Publishing | Tags: , , , |

I have a job offer. Yes, that’s the subject of the post today because I’ve been busy with all sorts of craziness going on with interviews and the like. And today I did an interview, and the store owner told me I could start next Wednesday.

What makes this at all writing and/or reading related? The nature of the beast–er, job,–of course.

I have to call the owner back and let him know I’m interested, but it’s a job I’ve always wanted to do. The position is as a part-time bookseller in the Book Gallery Outlet here in town. It’s one of a group of bookstores that sell on remainder, which means, in essence that they resell books.

Now I know this isn’t a full-time position, but in this economy, a job’s a job whether it’s full-time or part-time or freelance or contract. Let me add: I’ve done contract work, and I don’t like it. If the tax obligations of the contracted employee aren’t bad enough, the health insurance issues are worse. So I’m pleased to have a potential position in a job where I’d be an actual employee, taxes deducted from my paycheck and all. Who knows? I might even get one of those coveted refunds next year in taxes…

For now, though, I can live with a part-time job where I’ll be making money. And since I’ve always wanted to work for a bookstore, I’m pretty pleased about the opportunities this will give me.

Now I did work for an online bookstore that’s run similarly to Amazon on a much smaller scale for a while, but it’s definitely not the same as being able to walk around and pick up books to peruse while maintaining the store.

The other fun thing about today’s interview? I got a lesson in book selling. Book Gallery Outlet sells on remainder. So what does that mean? Here’s the example the owner gave me.

Say author Rae Reneau’s new book comes out. It retails at $15.99. Of course, wholesalers were able to sell copies to the Borders and Barnes & Noble’s of the world for $10.99, which turned into the $5.00 markup for the bookstores. So Borders purchased 100,000 copies of Rae Reneau’s book because she’s obviously going to become a bestseller. When Borders only sold 60,000 and needed to free up room for new inventory, they estimated that they could sell another 10,000 copies in the next month. The remaining 30,000 copies were promptly shipped back to the publisher in exchange for credits towards new purchases.

The publisher doesn’t really want to keep all that excess inventory and can’t resell it as new material since it’s already been stickered by Borders. Instead, the books are sold to resell wholesalers at $1.99 per book. The wholesalers charge stores like Book Gallery Outlet $2.99 per book, and Book Gallery Outlet sells to customers for $4.99.

So Rae Reneau’s bestseller goes out in still-new copies from Book Gallery Outlet for $4.99 instead of the retail price of $15.99. And that, my friends, is selling on remainder. It’s a pretty simple lesson, and I understand how it could be profitable for those bookstores that want to get cheaper books and still make a profit.

Perhaps its my business education coming forward, but I think it’s all very fascinating how this business works. And even if I am doing part-time work, I was told if I do well I’d have the opportunity to do things like attend book fairs and trade shows where I could sell books. I imagine that would be a lot of fun for a book junkie like me.

So hopefully I’ll call the owner back and tell him I’m thrilled and excited to be starting work with him next week. The great thing is this particular job allows a lot of freedom, initiative and creativity, so I’m not going to be forced into a corporate box.

And I might learn something about starting my own bookstore one of these days…

Anyway, I thought you all might enjoy the business lesson and the fun news from my end. It’s always nice to have good news, isn’t it? Does anyone else have good news? Let me know!


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