Publishers Say No to Tzomet Sfarim Discount Scheme

Several publishers are refusing to take part in book discount chain Tzomet Sfarim's latest marketing campaign.

Earlier this week, Tzomet Sfarim launched a pre-Hebrew Book Week sale, under which anyone who buys one book at full price can buy two more for just another NIS 10 (for the pair). Normally, new Hebrew titles retail at around NIS 90 each.

The offer began after rival bookstore chain Steimatzky rolled out a buy one, get one free campaign.

But a visit to a Tzomet Sfarim branch to look over the titles participating in the sale reveals that most of them are from the chain's "house" publishers, Modan Publishing House and Kinneret Zmora Bitan Dvir Publishers, which have the same owners as the retailer.

TheMarker has learned that other publishers were approached about joining the sale, but declined.

Among the publishing houses that decided this was an offer they could definitely refuse were Yedioth Books, Keter Books, Matar Books and Am Oved.

According to a senior figure in one of the nonparticipating publishing houses, the refusal represents "an unorganized boycott aimed at bringing Tzomet Sfarim back into proportion. They went over the top in recent months with their demands from publishers, and now they are having regrets and want us to participate in the campaign."

The source said that Tzomet Sfarim wanted to pay just NIS 15 for each copy of the participating titles.

"That's a discount of around 80%," he explained. "The customer [normally] pays about NIS 90 for each book. From that, the chain [normally] receives a discount of up to 50% off the cover price, and 65% during a special sale. They wanted, in effect, to make about an NIS 18 profit per book (NIS 100 for three books, minus NIS 15 per title) and to get an 80% discount, while we wouldn't be making any profit at all."

Bini (Benjamin) Triwaks, one of the owners of Matar Books, confirmed his company's nonparticipation. "At this stage we refused their offer," he said.

"We reached the conclusion that what we are being offered in exchange for our participation won't get us anywhere and we won't continue with it. It's impossible to keep going with the numbers they're offering us at present, and we're even losing money. In the past we agreed to the amount offered us, but today, in light of our past experience, we've decided not to."

In the past, Tzomet Sfarim has held special sales in which it sold four books for NIS 100 (around $25), or two books for the price of the more expensive one plus one shekel.

Yaron Sadan, managing director of Am Oved, also said in a statement that the house is not taking part in the campaign.

Iris Mor, editor in chief of Keter Books, said: "We have decided this time not to take part in the campaign." Yedioth Books could not be reached for comment.

In response, Tzomet Sfarim said: "The sale includes more than 5,000 titles from 12 publishers. More than 50% of the books on the bestseller lists in recent weeks are in the sale. We are witnessing a process that repeat itself with each sale: Some publishers are at first hesitant to join because of pressure from their competitors. But ultimately, all publishers have taken part in all our campaigns. So the real question isn't whether they'll join, but when."