Selling on Consignment
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Q.: I have a question about selling on consignment. Is this a good idea? I’ve been told that it’s a low-risk option for both seller and creator — is this true?
A. Not really…
In a traditional retailer agreement, the store-owner buys the products at a lower price (either from a distributor or from the producer) called “wholesale.” Then, the retailer increases the price and sells it to consumers.
In a consignment agreement, a retailer offers to display your book and offer it for sale in his or her store — without buying it first. The creator only gets paid if-and-when the book actually sells.
But under this arrangement you are taking a little more risk than you normally would. For example, if the book is damaged, you’ve got to eat that cost. Of course, this is the same for bookstore sales, but for comic-shop sales — in which the retailer adds products to its permanent stock — that’s not the case.
But in my experience, the greater risk is quite simply never finding out if your book sold.
Most bookstores and comic shops are not set up to handle the logistics of consignment sales. Their point-of-sale devices aren’t programmed to track these sales, and their bookkeeping is not arranged to automatically notify the seller and cut a check if the book has been purchased. That puts you in the awkward position of calling the store on a regular basis to ask if your book sold yet.
That’s not to say that consignment-selling is a bad decision. If you verify that the retailer that you’re working with actually has all of the logistics covered, this could be a very good idea. But if they aren’t already operating with a significant number of consignments that they process monthly, you’re probably better off avoiding it entirely.