The on-sale date in the publishing world is a big deal. Every Tuesday morning we begin our day with shelving. The stacks of books we’ve received the day before, or more likely the week before, can now find their rightful home on the shelves. Sometimes the stacks of books are huge, and sometimes not, but we respect the on-sale date, even if it’s for a board book.
I understand the reason behind the on-sale date is to make sure no book gets sold early and thereby giving an unfair advantage to certain stores. But I do think sometimes that the on-sale date is getting a little out of hand. Boxes of books arrive daily that we cannot shelve, even though they are books that people want. I’m not talking about embargoed titles like Harry Potter, but paperback early readers or nonfiction titles about insects. These are books no one is lining up for or having a midnight party to celebrate. Why can’t I shelve them and free up much needed space on my counter? Because I can’t, that’s why.
I know this because I saw a note that my staffer, Laura, put on a stack of books yesterday. The note itself is actually quite funny. The “It’s the law!” part really tells me she’s fully embraced the on-sale date issue. The truly funny part of this is she’s the only one who does the shelving on Tuesday mornings.
Publishers out there: why does the on-sale date apply to so many books, not just the hot ones?