Friday, June 22, 2007

Getting it on the shelves, part three

As I said, I've been talking with other litmag editors who have experience with DeBoer, either currently or in the past. The first thing I learned was that everyone seems to know about Faye's unusual business practices. I wish someone had told me before I signed the contract with her. My colleagues' attitudes ranged from extreme chagrin at Faye's dishonesty, to a resigned willingness to put up with the way she operates. A lot of them feel sorry for her. (I don't.) Some have refused to put up with it, and stopped using DeBoer. I also found out that she pays some publishers, sometimes. It wasn't clear what the secret is, but her favorite journal is McSweeney's. She says she can't get enough of it, so I would guess that they get paid (but I don't know for sure). A couple of editors said she sent them checks after they had badgered her--one by barraging her with phone calls, and another by showing up at her warehouse in Jersey.

The one theme that ran through all of these conversations, though, was that, while Ingram can put literary magazines into the big chains, only DeBoer can get them on the shelves of the independent bookstores. I find that hard to believe. Over and over again I heard them say that they liked to walk into a bookstore someplace and see their journal on the shelf. Well, I like that, too, and I think there must be some other way to accomplish it besides dealing with DeBoer. I agree with the editor who said, "I guess it's an issue of integrity, and Faye doesn't really have any." I may be crazy, but I don't think she should be rewarded for her behavior, and I'm not going to do it any more.

One of my colleagues suggested that I talk with three distributors: Ubiquity (Brooklyn), Small Changes (Seattle), and Armadillo (CA). I had talked with Joe Massey at Ubiquity before, but his terms looked a lot better to me after my experience with DeBoer. I called him again, and now have a contract with Ubiquity to distribute 95 copies of upstreet 3. Joe told me up front that he would only carry upstreet if he was free to give the magazine away to the booksellers. The first term on the Ubiquity contract is: “(1) Ubiquity Distributors will not be charged for copies of upstreet journal supplied to it by the publisher.” The contract goes on to say that if upstreet sells 50 copies or more of each issue regularly, the journal will go on a pay-for-copy basis, and I’ll receive 45% of the cover price for the copies that sell. I am quitting DeBoer and going with Ubiquity because Joe’s contract reflects the situation honestly, and Faye’s doesn’t. She pretends she’s going to do one thing, and then does something else. I've sent sample copies to Small Changes and Armadillo, and will be following up with them soon. I've also sent a sample to Disticor, a Canadian distributor recommended by Joe Massey.

This morning I got an email from a Business Manager at Source Interlink, asking for two sample copies of upstreet. She said it could take 30 days before I know whether they're going to take the journal, because they have to go through a review process and then negotiate a distribution agreement if it's approved. After that, she said, they would solicit orders from the chains. Chains? Quickly, I went to their website. Source Interlink distributes to Waldenbooks, Follett's, B. Dalton, Borders, and Barnes & Noble. This is a very, very long shot, but I never expected them to even consider upstreet. Ingram won't.

Source Interlink will receive its two copies tomorrow, by Express Mail. Keep your fingers crossed, upstreet fans.

10 comments:

angelle said...

Yes, DeBoer should not be rewarded for this kind of nonsense. I can't believe this is well-known and yet they're still around. Ugh. That makes me so angry.

Well, I'm glad you found elsewhere to go for now. I'm crossing my fingers for you on Source Interlink! That would be incredible!!!

Frank said...

You know who should be a distributor? Someone who loves books and exclusively worked with literary magazines...someone fair and honest...Someone who knows what it's like to be a magazine publisher victimized and held hostage by the system...

What if you became a distributor?

Don said...

Man I'm glad I'm out of the magazine business. My deal ten years ago was 50% of the cover price less shipping costs. The distributor did pay (2 issues after the issue was published), but went out of business a bit before I did. I never managed to find another distributor but it was moot since I only managed to get issue or two more out before it was all over for me.

I get the sense that distributing small circulation magazines ends up being rather unprofitable. I certainly wouldn't dare to give it a shot unless I had a lot of money I was willing to lose. And I'm saving up my money so I can lose it running a bookstore.

angelle said...

congrats on #3 being out! good luck with everything and keep us all updated. i owe you an email too, btw, but it's been crazy catch-up for me here too. will get to it soon :)

panjet07 said...

I was a fan of upstreet until now. Vivian, you have NO right to libel Deboer in this way. How dare you? They care about literary journals immensely and their job is a thankless one (based on your comments, that is certainly evident.) You act as if the owner is driving around in a Ferrari instead of paying you. The truth is that journals like yours can't support a real business that has expenses. Wake up!! You are a fool if you think you are going to make it big with any other distributors. The day of printed literary journals has come and will be gone very soon. You should be thanking DeBoer for its over 60 years of service thus far to the literary community.

vivian said...

I'm surprised it took Faye two whole weeks to persuade someone to post a comment for her.

panjet07 said...

How old are you?? Maybe you should act like an adult and take some of this energy you have to unnecesarily mock people and make a positive contribution to the world of literary journals instead. You may think that I was "persuaded" by Faye to post a comment, but it was my choice, and my choice alone. In fact, it is beneath me to even respond to you again but your readers should know that there are two sides to every story. Have fun blogging with your three fans.

vivian said...

As I thought I made clear in my original posting, this is not about who is making money and who is not. It has to do with integrity, and whether deceptive business dealings are justified by the argument that there is so little profit in distributing literary magazines. I repeat: if DeBoer simply behaved honestly up front, so the client's decision could be made based on the distributor's actual practices, no one would be complaining.

However, my anonymous commenter is more interested in foaming at the mouth with indignation than in understanding the facts of the situation.

Lizzy said...

Best of luck, Vivian! Keep up the good fight.

Jilly said...

Bernhard DeBoer just went out of business, I was told. I haven't found confirmation online though.