I have a theory about what A&R is up to. Traditionally, when a publishing house is acquired by some big conglomerate, the bean counters take a look at the accounts, turn pale, and have a talk with the publisher. It has come to their attention, they say, that many books lose money, and most of the others make a small profit at most. Almost all the publisher’s profits come from a small number of bestselling titles. “True,” says the publisher. In that case, the beancounters reply, would it not make more sense to only publish the bestsellers?
I’m wondering whether A&R thinks they’d do better business if they only stocked the bestsellers. (If you look at the sixty-odd reader comments on the news story in question, you can see the actual reaction the book-buying public has when they find a poor selection on offer in a bookstore.)
Alternately, it’s possible that A&R’s management stands to personally profit if the company goes public and the initial stock offering does well, so they’re running a quick slash-and-burn raid on their more vulnerable suppliers in order to temporarily make their company look more profitable. Or maybe it’s something else. It’s tacky and stupid and self-defeating, whatever it is.
Worth a read, it is.
Personally, next week, I'm going to drive to my local Angus & Robertson and ask them to give me petrol money. I don't play to buy anything. I just think they should pay me to go to the store. It seems like the kind of thing I can do now.