Rowe, Rowe, Rowe your Com and other disasters Steve Corrsin 15 Jan 2003 14:09 UTC

A couple of comments which come out of the Faxon/ RoweCom/ Divine collapse.

First, about going direct to publishers. The rise of subscription agents
is, perhaps, analogous to the rise of bookstores selling works from
different publishers many years ago. Publishers over and over again proved
themselves incapable of providing good service, for one thing. That is as
true now as ever.

I remember in New York city about 20 years ago there were still sizable
bookstores owned by individual publishers; Doubleday, Scribners. Long gone
and good bye.

Second point: be warned, some may take offense. But considering Faxon/
RoweCom's history since about 1993-94, any customers who did not very
seriously consider bailing out on them -- certainly not because of bad
service (it was fine), nor because of bad professionals and staff (they
were excellent), but because of bad business leadership (in 1993-94 and
then again when RoweCom re-took Faxon in 1999-2000) -- well, draw your own
conclusions. We bailed as a result of the 2000-2001 cash crunch and every
day I've said, thank heavens. (Or equivalent expressions which are a good
deal stronger.)  How many times does this have to happen with a company
before one says, "We're outta here!"

As someone says in that movie which so eloquently and accurately depicts
the serials business -- "The Godfather" pt 1, I believe -- "it was
business. Nothing personal." We librarians should follow that credo more often.

extremely sincerely
Steve Corrsin


Stephen D. Corrsin
Head of Acquisitions
Wayne State University Library System
5150 Anthony Wayne Dr.
Detroit MI 48202
tel 313-577-4005
fax 313-577-3615