A Spent Book Budget

black calculator near ballpoint pen on white printed paper

I ordered the last book of the fiscal year today! Well, not really–but mostly! I’m sure I’ll still pick up a few odd patron requests and breakaway hits, but the book budget has been spent for FY23. Why? I thought you’d never ask!

Publishers like to know roughly how many people are going to buy their books before they start printing to avoid the risk of over- or under-producing. If they overproduce, they waste money on unwanted copies. If they underproduce, they lose sales and waste money having to reset equipment for unscheduled additional printings. To get it right, they do two things:

First, publishers provide reviewers with advance copies so that magazines like Kirkus and Library Journal can publish reviews months in advance. Since these (and others like them) are the tools we use for purchasing, we’re always reading ahead.

Second, publishers offer deep discounts on pre-orders. I can order books in Baker and Taylor as soon as publication has been announced, and the discounts are often much better in pre-order periods than they are at the time of publication. Getting a jump on the gun can be the difference between a 41% discount and an 18% discount. James Patterson already has books scheduled for publication on 6/05…and 6/13…and 7/03…and 7/10…and 8/14… Other authors and series have contracts that go as far out as scheduled publications in 2027!

As a municipal department, though, I have to hit the reset button every year on June 30. Any bills accrued in FY23 (up to the end of June) have to be payed before a strict deadline, and any books I order before July 1 count as FY23. To be safe, I put anything published after June 26 into an FY24 cart and don’t order it until July 1. Then, on June 26, I cancel every book order that is still outstanding and add it to that FY24 cart to keep invoices from straggling in after the legal deadline to pay them. Hence, as of today, I have ordered my last book of FY23. As of this moment, we have 149 titles on order to see us through till June 30, and 208 waiting to be ordered on July 1.