10 Tips for Inventory Management
3. Combine strong relationships, communication and service with good inventory analysis.
Leaver is a firm believer that good inventory control is a mix of good customer relationships and solid data analysis. “When both groups are in sync, you can get it right 90 percent of the time. You will never be right 100 percent of the time, but you can get close.”
4. Consider print runs carefully.
Avoid big print runs at the outset, before you are in tune with the marketplace. Talk to book buyers. Liss bases the quantity of his first print run on trade advances and prepublication purchases by authors. “Usually it is in the 1,500 to 2,000 copy range,” he says. “Occasionally, it will be more if we believe that the book is a potential best seller, and we don’t want to lose momentum by running out of books. Sometimes we order extra inventory because the title has limited potential and we expect the first buy to be our last buy.”
5. Keep inventory low, prices right and profit high.
Overestimating the print quantity in the first or second reprint can be a publisher’s biggest mistake, according to Liss. “If you reprint too soon or too much, you end up recycling and/or writing off a bunch of inventory.”
Carolyn Sakowski, president, John F. Blair, Publisher, in Winston-Salem, N.C., agrees. Sakowski, whose company publishes books on the Southeast, has seen publishers make the mistake of printing large initial quantities in order to keep the unit price down. “If you have 10,000 books in your warehouse that aren’t selling, you really haven’t kept your unit price down at all. On the other hand, I’ve seen publishers print small quantities, but not take into consideration all the costs other than printing that will be involved when they are setting their retail prices. It’s a balancing act to price the book to cover your costs, but not to price the book out of its market.”