Can Schiffer's Minimum Advertised Pricing Solve Publishers', Authors' and Retailers' Woes?
Extra: How do you determine which books do fit the model? Are there any guidelines or rules of thumb you use in determining the price of the book?
Schiffer: It’s a conversation with our authors. We publish in many different areas, so it really is there to serve a specific purpose for a specific direction that the author intends for the book. For many of our authors, the books are their babies—it’s a labor of love—and it hurts them when they see their books are being discounted so heavily. And it hurts the perceived value of their work. As a publisher, we want to make sure that our authors’ work is being properly represented.
We don’t have a specific criteria that the book has to meet certain standards to be a part of it, or certain exclusions. It’s something that’s handled on a case-by-case basis.
Extra: Have you lost any distributors as a result?
Schiffer: We haven’t lost any distributors, but there are several who are not participating, so they are open to any of our other nearly 4,500 titles that we have in print, but the LTD titles would just not be open to them. But I don’t know of any of our customers or trading partners who have gone a separate way from us because of the creation of this imprint. There are several that believe in it and are participating in it and find it to be a very positive thing, because it allows them to choose what their final sales price is, and not compete in an unequal world of advertising. This policy has only to do with the advertising. It has nothing to do with the final sales price of the book.
In my “prior life” I owned a few bicycle stores, and there’s a company called Mavic that has a similar policy, and it was something that really helped me see the integrity of their product. And it helped me know that they were behind me. That is a very comforting thing, and it helped me sell much more of their bicycle wheels. Many other industries have this MAP pricing policy, where you can’t advertise it below a certain price, but when you get into the store or when you’re sitting down across the table from somebody, you can then decide what that final price is. And it allows that individual or that company who is selling it to determine what their margin is going to be. And we think it’s an important thing to let the customer decide what that is, and to have an equal competitive advantage with anybody else.