Friday, 16 May 2008


Annual Book Industry Awards this week, apparently. I wonder what they actually win (book tokens?). I don’t understand these things; though I did notice, on the website, that one of the people shortlisted for the ‘Award for Industry Achievement’ was also one of the judges. But the bookseller of the year is Foyles, and they are also the chain bookselling company of the year (with five branches, compared with the several hundred of, say, Waterstones), and I’m not arguing. They are big and ancient but they seem to operate like your local friendly independent, and this is a neat thing to do. A few months ago a man at Foyles actually contacted CBe and ASKED for books, and made an initial order for ten of each title, and sold them all, and paid us.

A (publisher) to B (bookseller) to C (customer): not a complicated route, you might think, hard to get lost on the way. But when the big systems come into play . . . Neilsen’s ‘BookNet services are used widely by thousands of companies in the industry to send or receive orders, ensuring that the supply chain runs with speed, efficiency and accuracy.’ I should have known. When CBe started and I registered the books with Neilsen BookData they put me onto a system that would alert me by email to book orders. No emails came; then, by post, some cancellations of orders I’d never received; then someone phoned from a distributor to ask where were the books they’d ordered several weeks before. I called Nielsen, was put through to someone, was put through to someone else. I had, it turns out, been ‘set up incorrectly’. They were very sorry about this.

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