I know times are tough for all the publishing companies, with Borders closing and leaving them hanging for payments for a long time. Every store that closes affects publishers’ bottom lines in profound ways. But I’ve had it with publishers basically threatening me to pay before the bill is due or not applying my credits.
I received an email from a publisher (which I will not name, as no one from the company has gotten back to me on my short time frame) that essentially said, pay what’s due for March 31st now, or we will not ship your books.
Here is the email: Payment has been received to clear the invoices due 2/29/12 but not the 3/30/12 due. Please provide payment details for the current due invoices as soon as possible. Shipments remain suspended until the account is fully up to date.
I received this email on March 22, more than a full week before the payment of $877 was actually due. So, to summarize, my account is fully up to date, I owe nothing, and yet this publisher is not shipping any orders and is treating me like I’m late to pay my bill.
I hate this kind of business tactic. I want to say to this publisher: how about the benefit of the doubt? I’m not even late and yet, you’re acting like I’m 90 days late and I’m seldom late more than a day or two. But if the check isn’t in the lock box by the last of the month, this company puts any bookstore on credit hold and refuses to ship my books. What kills me is I get these nasty little emails every month, although this one was overt in saying no books will ship until they get payment details. Usually, the emails just serve as reminders that the payments are expected. In February, I even got one reminding me that it was a short month and I should adjust my check accordingly.
I know these credit reps are just doing as they’re told, but this utter lack of faith is destroying my relationship with certain publishers. I tire of being considered a deadbeat when I’ve done nothing wrong. I am weary of wondering if the books I’ve ordered will ship if the check is 24 hours late.
Oh, and don’t get me started about the publishers who won’t apply credits without monthly written approval from me. So, monthly, I write emails (some, though, need to be faxed) saying please apply my credits to my outstanding balance. Why do I need to do this? Shouldn’t it be obvious I want the credits applied, especially since the credits are based on returns that I sent in?
Why are publishers making it harder and harder to do business? Every meeting with reps has them asking, pleading in some cases, to order more backlist, but why am I going to subject myself to being treated like a deadbeat on a monthly basis for payments that aren’t even late? Ironically, the smaller publishing companies are the most relaxed about payments, even though they’re the ones who can least afford it.
It’s a tough market for all of involved with bookselling. Publishers are out thousands, millions of dollars in some cases, and bookstores are struggling with tighter margins and a shrinking customer base. Without sounding trite I can’t help but think: Why can’t we all get along?