Got a note today from a manga publisher that I won’t name saying that due to company cutbacks, they would no longer be able to send review copies. That notice is unusual but appreciated. I know times are tight, and I sympathize. I would rather know what’s going on (instead of wondering if someone immaturely took offense at something I said, for example).
However, the part I found especially strange was the suggestion that if I was willing to pay for the shipping costs and mailing supplies, they might be willing to continue sending the books. I don’t think so. For one thing, I’m willing to buy favorite titles for myself, and that list doesn’t include many of this company’s titles (although I am willing to try them when given the option in the hopes of changing my opinion).
If $3 per reviewer is going to make a difference, then this all may be a moot point, anyway, because it suggests a company in trouble. They unprofessionally cc’ed everyone on the email, so I can see exactly who was on their review list. There were 15 names, so we’re talking, what, a $50 expense per book in shipping costs? And how exactly does one set up a system to bill reviewers? Would that mean I got to order the titles I was interested in at this reduced rate, or would it be an all-or-nothing deal?
In the bigger picture, any company that wants coverage (especially if they don’t have a big anime tie-in property) needs to get their books into the hands of reviewers. There are a lot of other options out there, and without reviews, people tend to stick to a few known favorites.
Marketing is usually an expense companies choose to cut early. That’s not a very smart long-term strategy, though, because out of sight often means out of mind. Given that bookstores are feeling overwhelmed and limiting what they stock, it’s more important than ever to drive readers to seek out different titles, which can happen with good reviews. In this company’s case, I haven’t seen any of their books on shelves of stores around here, so if they don’t send them, I’m likely to forget about them. I wonder how many other people will do the same.
Last year, another company tried a cutback, only they were much more gentle about it. They sent out a notice that said that instead of sending every title every month, they’d move to a request system, so you’d only get the books you were interested in covering. That seemed fair — only they didn’t stick with it. Within a couple of months, they were back to sending everything. I wonder if the tracking and special mailing was more trouble than it was worth.