Chelsea Green's Challenge
• Do you think this deal ultimately damaged your relationship with retailers?
Baldwin: We did damage our relationships with independents and [the retailers participating in] our Green Partners [program], but for the most part, we have repaired the damage and moved forward with them.
• Did retailers live up to their promises of not ordering any more books from Chelsea Green?
Baldwin: I think we only lost one partner store and have added a few others since then. Not many followed through on their threats, and some just ordered [“Obama’s Challenge”] through wholesalers. We finally got an order from Barnes & Noble [for “Obama’s Challenge”] in November right after the election, and I think the book has sold well for them.
• Would you do this type of deal again?
Baldwin: I think there is a place [for] exclusive deals. … I think you have to calculate the pros and cons first. I don’t think we’d do an exclusive product that was only sold through one retailer. Would we do an exclusive launch again? Not anytime soon.
I think one of the things that gets lost is that … we’re a small publisher. There isn’t an appreciation for what it means for a small publisher to survive when we’re up against the Random Houses and the Simon & Schusters. Their orders are of a different magnitude. There are things you have to do [as a small publisher]. It’s not easy. …
• How is Chelsea Green faring in the current economic climate?
Baldwin: We actually think we’re pretty well-positioned … because we have books that are going to be particularly valuable as we head into a recession. … Our local newspaper [just] did a feature story on us; the headline was “Tips for Tough Times.” It featured some of our new titles and our backlist [titles], too—[books about] money, how to make yourself mortgage-free, how to build your own house and garden. I feel like if we’re smart, and we’re aggressive about promoting our backlist and letting people see how [these titles] will help people survive, we’ll be OK.