Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The bean counters give up Smoke-ing

London readers may well be familiar with Smoke magazine. This London peculiar is 10 issues strong now and Matt the publisher distributes the mag all round London - well, to those shops that agree to stock it. Waterstone's has never taken it and some surprising indies don't bother either. Why is beyond me as it is always interesting and genuinely entertaining and we sell dozens and dozens of copies.

Oddly, for a chain, Borders were one of Smoke's best customers. He'd go into a branch, do a quick stock check and replace what had sold. Virtually no work for Borders whatsoever and considering they would sell hundreds of copies probably about 600 quids worth of business (after discount) for every issue - easy money, n'est ce pas?

Well that didn't stop the bean counters who wrote to Matt a few months ago saying they were not dealing with small, individual suppliers any more and if he wanted to carry on supplying to Borders he'd have to get a distributor to whom they would do business.

Because Borders can't be bothered to process maybe a dozen invoices a year it's costing Matt 15% of his income from the magazine - about £300 a year just from them. Is Borders saving that much - I doubt it. A dozen invoices a year can't possibly add up to more than a couple of hours work - £30, tops. But because he's signed up with the new supplier he's also losing 15% from people like us who are happy to deal direct.

The other lunacy is he only lives half a mile away from us. Now he has to deliver to a warehouse in Hackney who then parcel up and send out a box back across town - about a 12 mile round trip.

The only upside to this idiocy is that maybe, and that's a big maybe, he'll get Smoke into the London Waterstone's and double his sales. Fingers crossed but they should have been dealing with him direct already. It is as they say a no-friggin'-brainer.

I should say as well that no one has asked me to write this and I am probably breaking a confidence by doing so but it's just too infuriating for it to go unknown just how these big companies are squeezing the life out of people who are really producing work as a labour of love. It makes me very, very cross.


  1. This news article shows the payment problems with Borders Newbury over a charity calendar which they sold.

  2. "Smoke" is deeply wonderful. Everyone should take out a subscription for themselves and one for a friend.

  3. It doesn't make any sense to me why Borders are so resistant to Smoke - if I ever went in to buy it, I'd always think that I should buy other items to make my trip worthwhile!

  4. SmuggerTwatAugust 16, 2007

    Yes, you probably are breaking a confidence, and if Borders or Waterstones or Smith's or anyone else decide that probably they don't need to be stocking a mag whose publisher whines about having to follow their supply rules to people with blogs such as yours, then you should feel guilty. But hey, you were angry, so that's alright then.

  5. Ah, but the bean counters are busy inheriting the earth. Have a look at the current storm over moves by Angus & Robertson in Australia to charge underperforming suppliers.