Saturday, January 10, 2009


Crossing Borders

Well, this could get mighty interesting.

From Galley Cat:

On Tuesday, Jasmine-Jade Enterprises, the parent corporation of Ellora's Cave and Cerridwen Press, filed a lawsuit against the bookstore chain seeking $1 million in damages stemming from what Jasmine-Jade alleges were deliberately "excessive" orders of their books. (Jasmine-Jade has also filed a lawsuit against distribution company Baker & Taylor, accusing the distribution company of "conspiring" with Borders, which used B&T to return the unsold Ellora's Cave and Cerridwen inventory.)
Like most lawsuits, it could go nowhere, or get quietly settled. But if Jasmine-Jade actually sticks it to Borders, the legal precedent could be a swift kick in the ass to chains. Why? Because -- as my Village Voice piece noted a couple years back -- chain stores basically built themselves up with other people's money (ie stock offerings) and other people's books (books returnable to the publisher for credit, a system the book industry hates but can't let go of.)

Borders shares are going south of $1 and on the verge of being delisted from the NYSE: so much for other people's money. If one good court case makes book returns turn radioactive, then other people's books may go too.

The winner in such a scenario? Not so much the indies, I suspect. It'll be Amazon, which has the buying power of chains but doesn't need to wallpaper its warehouses with books that nobody asked for. And, of course, publishers -- which will no longer have to remain endlessly in hock to the chains.

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