Last Christmas was a discounting bloodbath on the high street, when the big chains traded margin for share. Average selling prices tumbled to near or below 50% off on key titles, and everyone was left wondering how much further it could go.
Although it seems almost indecent to think of next Christmas so soon after Easter, publishers are already formulating strategies to sidestep last year's margin massacre.
Their solution is frighteningly simple: charge more for the books in the first place. So the day of the £30 hardback is almost with us, enabling retailers to offer a 66% discount and still sell the book for £10.
Perhaps a really far-sighted publisher will conceive a £40 hardback, offering retailers the tantalising prospect of a 75% discount. But why stop at £40? We are entering, as one senior retailer puts it, Cloud-cuckoo-land.