Prior to having two books published last year, I hadn’t given much attention to the bookselling world. Sometimes I’d buy a book from the Community Associations Institute (CAI) bookstore at the Annual Conference or Law Seminar. Or I might purchase a book from the National Association of Parliamentarians on meeting procedure. Or from Barnes & Noble if I happened to be there. Or from Amazon if there was free shipping. Book purchases were really about convenience, since all the books seemed to cost generally the same.
In fact, when you think about it, why would any organization like CAI go to the trouble to maintain a physical and online bookstore? For one, CAI Press is a publisher with original works related to community associations that may not be available elsewhere. In addition, CAI Press is a retail bookstore with non-CAI created works, and it’s convenient if members can buy such books at industry events or have one place to find HOA and condo related publications. But how can organizations like CAI make any money selling books against online superstores?
Thanks to two wonderful publishers (Penguin and SIU Press), I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to about the business of book publishing. Terms like “short discount” vs. “trade discount” vs. “specialist discount.” Basically, the way it works is that someone like Debra Lewin, Senior Director of CAI Press, contacts the many different publishers of works of interest to the community association world. Depending on many factors, including the book category (trade, educational, etc.), number of books, return rights (i.e., consignment), and even specific publisher, book resell prices can vary significantly. Some books have to be purchased by the selling organization (they’re not on consignment), which means there’s a loss if the reseller can’t sell the book.
These many efforts lead to this: a reseller’s prices are based on fairly fixed financial policies and formulas. Some books can be purchased by an organization like CAI at a discount; then if the books are sold, the reseller can keep some of the difference. CAI goes further and splits discounts with members, which reduces prices even further. However, if a reseller can’t net a certain amount from the sale, it doesn’t make sense to carry the book. Generally, CAI prices tend to be the same or less than other booksellers (excluding shipping). While shipping costs can add a bit to the final cost, I’m willing to pay a bit more knowing that the purchase helps my professional organization, even if just a little.
CAI has just started selling both of my recent books (thank you, CAI!). If you don’t have them, they deal with running better meetings. I can’t pass up an opportunity to promote books, so here’s some information on both (and the links that follow will take you to CAI’s bookstore):
Whether you’re interested in my books or others related to homeowner and condominium associations, I encourage you to visit and buy something from the CAI bookstore. A menu on the left of the web page divides the books into 17 different categories. There are more than 100 books available.
And you’ll purchase with the satisfaction of supporting your professional organization!
Author: Jim Slaughter
Articles have been Reprinted with permission from Black, Slaughter, Black.
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