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The Beauty of Bind-Ups
by Christine M. Irvin

Are your books in a bind-up? If they are, that’s a probably good thing.

A bind-up, in the publishing world, is a book made up of components from other books that have been “bound-up” to form a single book. Until recently, I had never heard the term bind-up, in relation to a book. If I had seen a bind-up copy I would probably have called it an anthology, a collection of related materials. The two terms are nearly synonymous. A bind-up is made by combining more than one title of a series into a single volume, while an anthology might be a book of poems or short stories about the same topic.

According to Anne Hoppe, the person in charge of Special Sales at Scholastic, Inc., “Series are difficult to sell to retailers because [they] require a monetary investment from booksellers to buy numerous books on one topic. All other book purchases for book retailers are returnable, i.e. bookstores can return all copies of a title they have not sold after 90 days.” But bind-ups are different: When a publisher agrees to do a bind-up, they make a deal for a specific number of books which are paid for ahead of time. The copies of the bind-ups cannot be returned.

Craft books are apparently good candidates for bind-ups as evidenced by the bind-up copy of my craft books called Craftmania (Gramercy, 2004). I am the author of a series of craft books known as the Mania Craft series as each title contains the word “mania,” i.e, Milk Carton Mania, Paper Plate Mania, Egg Carton Mania, etc. (Children’s Press in September 2002). A deal was struck between the Special Sales Department of Scholastic, Inc. (Scholastic is the parent company of Children’s Press.) and the Gramercy imprint of Random House. Random House combined three of the individual titles of craft books into a single volume. According to the deal that was struck between the two publishers, Random House “re-published” these books as a single volume. They also committed themselves to the purchase of 21,000 copies of the book, a sizeable print run. Selling the series as a one-volume bind-up made good business sense for both publishers involved.

Bind-ups are good for both the publisher and the author. The publisher doesn’t have to commission any more material from the author, thereby avoiding the time and cost involved in negotiating another contract. The author receives royalties on, and another credit for, a book he/she didn’t have to write. In my case, my royalty statements reflected the sale of 21,000 copies of each of the three titles used in the bind-up, giving a substantial boost to the number of overall sales for those titles. Scholastic received a lump sum payment from Random House for the rights to print the books. That figure was divided by 21,000 (the print run for the bind-up) to determine the total amount Scholastic received per book. The individual unit price was used to determine the royalty amount I received for each book. Since three books were used in the bind-up, one-third of the total unit price was used to figure the royalties per book, times 21,000 copies.

Since an outside publisher (Random House) negotiated the deal with the publisher of my books (Children’s Press.), both publishers benefited. Children’s Press will make money off this new book of mine without having to print the books themselves or do the marketing for them. Random House benefits because they didn’t have to negotiate a contract with me, the author, and they will increase their line of books.

So, if you’re the author of a series of books, you might approach your editor and ask if your books are right for a bind-up. If they are, it’s a win, win situation for all parties involved.

© Copyright 2006, Christine M. Irvin

Christine M. Irvin is the author of several books, including a series of eight children's craft books, known as the mania series, published by Children's Press in 2002; another craft book, Craft Mania, published by Random House in 2004; and a children's story book, called Isaac the Frog, published by Sprite Press in 2003. She has numerous stories and articles, for both children and adults, published in such periodicals as Highlights for Children, Oasis, curiocity Columbus, and at Home in Columbus. Christine lives in Grove City, Ohio, with her husband, three children and a dog. You can visit Christine's website at www.christine-irvin.com

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