I am just starting out and my book is generating some local interest. A bookstore wants to give me a purchase order, and pay me next month. I have to purchase my books up front from my publisher and I really don’t want to wait to get reimbursed. But, I also don’t want to lose the sale. And, what about libraries? Should I accept purchase orders from them, too? Do you have any advice?
At BookLocker.com, we do NOT offer credit to any firm wanting to purchase books from us directly. Here’s why.
When we first started selling print books back in 1999, we offered credit to everyone. We accepted purchase orders from bookstores across the country, libraries, and even schools. That turned out to be a very bad idea.
Bookstores – While we didn’t accept returns, one large bookstore chain (Borders) would return unsold books to us anyway, and they would deduct the amounts for those books from our future payments. They did this despite the fact that our order form, which required a signature, specified that they would not return books. Other large and small bookstores paid very late and some never paid at all.
Libraries – Libraries turned out to be worse at paying their bills than bookstores. Some paid, and did so on time, but most paid slowly. Some never bothered to pay at all.
Schools – These were, by far, the worst offenders. We would receive purchase orders from school districts, and even from individual teachers. Some districts avoided paying their bills by claiming that the person who sent us the purchase order wasn’t authorized to do so. Others simply didn’t pay at all, and ignored all our collection efforts. Threatening to scar the credit rating of a school just doesn’t hold any weight. Of course, small claims court would have been a complete waste of time and money on small orders like that. I figured the schools knew all of this and that’s why so many of them never paid their bills.
After a year of wasting WAY too much time on collections (and countless hours of frustration and anger because we knew these outfits were purposefully stealing from us), we said enough is enough. We started requiring all retailers, libraries and schools to pay up front for all purchases. We set up a wholesale order form on our website that they were all required to complete before we would process their order, which specified our “no returns” policy.
And, guess what? When we did that, sales did NOT drop! Best of all, once we initiated that requirement, we were never again out any money on any order. And, we no longer had to pay an employee for several hours of collections work each month.
We still get purchase orders sent to us via mail, fax, and email. When we do, we quickly send them a link to our online order form https://secure.booklocker.com/booklocker/wholesale/order.php with this statement: “We require pre-payment on all orders.”
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