We’ve run out of stock on a number of older titles, and are wrestling, Mick McManus-like, with the difficult decision as to whether to reprint or not.
A 2,000 print run of the average b-format paperback costs in the order of £1,500. That gives a unit cost of £0.75.
Assuming an £8.99 jacket price (some are still priced at £7.99), and an average discount of 60% (discount being the price off the jacket price that the shops pay to us), we are receiving £3.33 a copy. Take away our sales and distribution costs (approx 25% – £0.83) and the print cost, we are recouping £1.75 per sale.
From that we must first pay the authors; if we assume a royalty of 10% of jacket price, but declining to 70% of the prevailing royalty in light of the higher-than-50% discount (this is standard in the trade), we are paying an author £0.63 per sale.
So on each sale, we are clearing £1.12.
We could push the button on six reprints of 2,000 copies apiece, and we would eventually make a profit of £13,440 on that expenditure. That is not to be sneezed at, but the key word is ‘eventually’. In order to make that £13k, we’d need to tie up £9,000 for an unspecified time – probably 18 months. Cash flow is what kills most small businesses, and, while cashflow is fortunately not a problem for us, it is something which needs to be borne in mind at all times.
In the meantime, of course, we would also be incurring storage charges.
The next question is, is there any way of reducing the print costs? I’d quite like a business trip to China or Singapore to have a look at the printing available there, but the fact is that the collapse in the value of the pound rules out what was once a good option for low-cost print runs, as long as you could cope with long lead times for delivery.
So what about digital? On Friday we were quoted £497.20 for a 200-copy run, giving a unit cost of £2.48. You don’t need an MBA or a degree in economics to see the problem here. However, one way around the obvious issue is to cut out the shops and just sell direct from our website. At £8.99, minus the cost of postage and packing (£1.30) and the author royalty, we actually make considerably more per sale, albeit that we make it more slowly. But we don’t have so much cash tied up for so long, and it does mean we can fulfil what is still, in some cases, a 50-copies-a-month demand on titles that would otherwise lie fallow.
So we’re going to have a look at this. Now, how to drive more traffic to our website?
Meanwhile, memories of Lambretta days:
And the original version. The one above is merely a speeded-up bootleg of the Originals’ original to appeal to the scooter boy market, not some mysterious other unreleased version, but it’s a great example of how a few extra RPM can change the entire character of a song, including the apparent sex of the singer: