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Something wicked this way comes

It’s no secret that display space in the bookstore chains is available to the highest-bidding publisher, but a recent trend in the fine art of retail influence has smaller publishers crying foul. According to a story on the Guardian website, major U.K. publishers have been inviting sales reps from the retail book chains on “sweetener trips” to such destinations as Madrid, New York, and Mount Vesuvius for lavish meet-and-greets with their frontlist authors. The reason: “ensuring increased orders for their books.” The entertainment budgets for these junkets apparently runs as high as £40,000, a figure that already cash-strapped smaller publishers have no hope of matching. The small publishers are arguing that this gives their corporate cousins an even more unfair edge; the big companies say that it’s just the cost of doing business. Does this mean we can look forward to Indigo reps being jetted off to Newfoundland for cod-tongue dinners with the Burning Rock writers, or out to Vancouver to snowboard with the UBC-grad crowd?

Related links:
Guardian article on bookseller junkets