Are Things This Bad?

Josie Leavitt - September 17, 2012

There is a publisher, that shall remain nameless, that has a new habit of sending out invoices, statements and delinquency notices every Saturday morning. I find this a curious time to send things as seemingly important as trade delinquencies, as for most stores, these emails won’t be seen until Monday morning. Plus, it can be a harsh way to start your weekend.
I know with the closing of Borders, many publishers were left carrying enormous debt and now every penny counts. Yes we have, rightfully, gotten a few of these notices as our checks and statements have missed each other in the mail. Have we been three days late to pay because of a vacation or trade show? Of course we have. I do not enjoy these statements, but understand that the bill must get paid. And pay it I do.
As I sipped my morning coffee on Saturday I checked the store email and my heart sank when I saw it: the trade delinquency notice. No one wants to get emails like this. I wondered what I had missed, as I felt fairly current with this publisher when I factored in my credits. I took a gulp of coffee and opened the email’s attachment. I read through the list of items due and my credits. So far I couldn’t really see that I owed much. I got to the bottom of the page and saw that I owed the massive sum of 53 cents. It’s going to cost me more to mail a check for that amount than what I owe.
I feel for the publishers who are in a bind, but getting a threatening letter for a 53-cent balance really makes me mad and makes me feel sad for the business in general. But, I sent off my check with a 44-cent stamp and wondered what next week’s email will bring?

6 thoughts on “Are Things This Bad?

  1. Margret

    With systems being automated things like this happen a lot more than they use to. Not all systems are set up to put in a limit. That is something that the publisher should work on with their IT or software support. Politely respond that the balance is not large enough to pay at this time as it would cost you just as much or more to pay the bill. They will understand and not expect a payment. Honestly on their end it will cost more than .53 to process that payment.

  2. Peni Griffin

    Will they take paypal?
    Most likely what’s happened is that there’s a batch program doing this job automated to run at a particular time, probably Friday night, which results in the e-mail Saturday morning. And whoever wrote this batch program forgot to include a line to exclude debts below a certain threshold. Even if somebody in Accounts Receivable notices and is annoyed by the sudden influx of checks for less than a dollar, unless that person has initiative and the knowledge of how to approach IT on the question, it could hang around through office inertia for a long time.
    Given that publishers won’t pay creditors (i.e. authors) for amounts judged to be “too small,” in which “too small” = “considerably more than a dollar” until sometimes years after the debt is first incurred, when either enough money accumulates to cross the check-writing threshold or the book goes OP and they realize that’s all there’ll ever be, this is mighty stupid. But that’s life in the Big Corporation for you.

  3. Mark

    And then you could always return a copy of one of their titles to them from your shelves and ask them to apply the credit against the $0.53 past due balance.

  4. Theresa M. Moore

    I really don’t see the big deal. If I pay my bills on time I can ignore the notice. 53 cents? Welcome to the world of automation. There is no such thing as forgiveness in this world. I know it is a struggle these days, but the publisher is in its rights to demand payment if the bill is not paid on time and in full.

  5. michael desanto

    Responding to the comments, it appears most may not own book stores. When a store is listed as delinquent they hold up your shipments. It costs more than the value of the book to ship “one” back and the warehouse does not care in any event. My store pays our bills “on time” but publishers make accounting errors all the time, fail to keep track of damages, and wait days to process payments so on time is an irrelevant comment. When a firm is placed on hold you might miss an order for an author event or a best seller. Your store credit rating could be harmed. From my view there is a great deal at stake for the store in this situation. Snarky comments miss the underlying issue here, that certain of our publisher friends are pretty cavalier in their treatment of book stores. Perhaps the publishers expect to stay in business selling e-books? That was a snarky comment.


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