A blog from Tonto Books, featuring musings from the publishing world and some occasional special guest appearances.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Distance is no object for barmy book industry

I've moaned here before about the distance our books sometimes have to travel to reach bookshop shelves but I've never been bored enough to calculate that distance, so bear with me here.

Let's say we want to supply one of our books to the Waterstone's branch in Newcastle upon Tyne - approximately 1.5 miles from our office:

That book is printed by Cox & Wyman in Reading, and delivered to us in Newcastle. According to Google Maps that's 288 miles.

We can't supply direct to Waterstone's, so we go through Gardners wholesalers in Eastbourne. That's a journey of 364 miles.

Gardners then supply that book to Waterstone's. Assuming the book would be supplied direct to the branch, that would be another 364 miles. But it probably won't be. Instead it'll go to Waterstone's centralised hub in Burton-on-Trent. That's 211 miles.

Finally, the book is sent to the store in Newcastle. Another 177 miles.

By my reckoning, the book has travelled 1040 miles.

To end up 1.5 miles away from where it was published.

The book has a retail price of £7.99, but the wholesale price that Waterstone's buy it for is obviously much less than that. How can this be economically viable? 1040 miles! That's roughly the distance from London to Belgrade. If you travelled that distance in a fairly economical car, I reckon the petrol would cost you around £120. God knows how much it would cost in a lorry full of books. It's probably very environmentally unfriendly as well, but I'm not making this point on behalf of the environment, I'm making it on behalf of common sense.

Let's not even think about what happens if the book gets returned...


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