There are a number of different types of booksellers. Most booksellers sell general titles suited to their own community of customers, newly published by established New Zealand and International publishers who have bought the rights to publish from the author. They may also purchase books from self-published authors.
There are also specialist bookshops selling new titles, such as children’s bookshops. They operate with publishers in the same way as those selling general titles.
There are also many second-hand and rare booksellers in New Zealand.These booksellers mostly sell books that have been given to them, or that they have bough because of their value on the national and international second-hand and rare books markets. Some of these also sell new books and engage with publishers as bookshops that sell only new books.
Publishers will sell on the basis of Sale or Return (SOR) or by Firm Sale. SOR, as the title suggests, means that any unsold stock after a set period (3 or 6 months is common) may be returned for credit from the Publisher. Firm Sale indicates that you must keep the stock purchased and have no way of getting credit for it on return.
Publishers usually establish a recommended retail price (RRP) which they then discount to the retailer – the discount being the booksellers’ “margin” - i.e. the profit. There are a variety of discounts given by publishers, but on average they are 30-40%, depending on volume purchased. Very often, self published books will be sold on commission (or consignment): the bookshop will pay the self-publisher once the book has been sold.