IBPA-U Speed Dating Your Distributor

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Handouts for the IBPA-U Session 901
Speed-Dating Your
Distributor/Wholesaler
Monday May 23, 2011

You’ve heard of speeddating
on the personal side—well, here is speeddating
for your professional side. Take advantage of this unique opportunity
to size up the top book distributors. Attendees will be divided into small
groups, each meeting with a different distributor for 12 minutes to hear
about each company and ask questions. A bell will sound, and the groups will
move to the next distributor, until each has been seen by every attendee.

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IBPA-U Speed Dating Your Distributor

  1. 1.   Session 901 Speed-Dating Your Distributor/Wholesaler Monday May 23, 2011   You’ve  heard  of  speed­dating  on  the  personal  side—well,  here  is  speed­ dating for your professional side. Take advantage of this unique opportunity  to  size  up  the  top  book  distributors.  Attendees  will  be  divided  into  small  groups,  each  meeting  with  a  different  distributor  for  12  minutes  to  hear  about each company and ask questions. A bell will sound, and the groups will  move to the next distributor, until each has been seen by every attendee.    Moderator:    Eric Kampmann, Midpoint Trade Books   Davida Breier, Johns Hopkins University   Josh Mettee, American West Books, Inc.  Press, HFS   Craig Pollock, Ingram Book Company Participants:    Tony Proe, The BookMasters Group/Atlas   Bethany Brown, New Shelves   Leah Rex, Ingram Publisher Services   Elise Cannon, PGW/Perseus   Mark Suchomel, IPG   Amy Collins, New Shelves   Kevin Votel, PGW/Perseus   Tom Doherty, Cardinal Publishers Group   Richard T. Williams, Small Press United    Participants: American West Books, Inc.  The BookMasters Group / Atlas Josh Mettee   Tony  Proe  1254 Commerce Way  30 Amberwood Parkway Sanger, CA 93657  Ashland, OH 44805 www.AmericanWestBooks.com  www.bookmasters.com jmettee@AmericanWestBooks.com  tproe@bookmasters.com 559‐876‐2170  315‐471‐8005 American  West  Books  is  a  wholesaler  that  If you are a small start up with just a few titles, a specializes  in  selling  regional  and  niche  titles  well  established  publisher  with  a  substantial  list, nationally.  Our  customers  include  the  wholesale  or fall somewhere in between, BookMasters offers clubs,  the  book  chains,  online  bookstores  and  a  large  menu  of  publishing  services  to  help  you museums/gift shops.   achieve success.  In addition to warehousing, sales, Prospective  clients  can  follow  up  by  emailing  E­book conversion, and distribution, we provide a jmettee@AmericanWestBooks.com.  full  range  of  printing  services,  whether  you  need 
  2. 2. one copy or 100,000.  BookMasters  is the partner  Prospective  clients  can  follow  up  by  emailing you  need  to  meet  the  challenges  of  our  rapidly  Craig.pollock@ingramcontent.com. evolving marketplace.   Prospective  clients  can  follow  up  by  emailing  Ingram Publisher Services tproe@bookmasters.com.  Leah  Rex    Acquisitions Director Cardinal Publishers Group  14 Ingram Blvd., One Ingram Blvd. Tom  Doherty   LaVergne, TN 37086 2402 N. Shadeland Ave., Suite A  www.ingramcontent.com Indianapolis, IN 46218  leah.rex@ingramcontent.com www.cardinalpub.com  615 213 5343 tdoherty@cardinalpub.com  Ingram  Publisher  Services  combines  the  power  of 800‐296‐0481  Ingrams  infrastructure  and  adds  a  sales  and Cardinal  Publishers  Group  is  a  full  service  marketing  component  to  give  your  titles  the distributor  handling  independent  trade  book  individualized attention and the broadest possible publishers since 2000.   access to customers around the world.  Prospective  clients  can  follow  up  by  emailing  Prospective  clients  can  follow  up  by  emailing tdoherty@cardinalpub.com.  IPSpublisher@ingramcontent.com.    Independent Publishers Group  Midpoint Trade Books Mark  Suchomel   Eric  Kampmann  814 N. Franklin Street  27 West 20th Street, Suite 1102 Chicago, IL 60610  New York, NY 10011 www.ipgbook.com  www.midpointtrade.com suchomel@ipgbook.com  eric@midpointtrade.com 312‐337‐0747 ext. 209  212‐727‐0190 Independent Publishers Group is one of the largest  In  this  fast  changing  publishing  environment, distributors  of  independently  published  books  in  Midpoint  believes  that  personal  hands­on North America. In addition to the book trade, IPG  management  is  the  best  way  to  serve  its  client covers  many  specialty  retailers  and  wholesalers  publishers.  Midpoint  was  founded  in  1996  and  is including  gift  and  museum  stores,  teacher  supply  led by two industry veterans, Eric Kampmann and stores,  outdoor  stores,  and  others.  IPG  is  highly  Chris Bell. Both Eric and Chris bring unparalleled selective  when  adding  publishers  and  looks  for  levels of experience to building the strongest levels titles of high quality and salability.    of sales for its publishers through a genuine depth Prospective  clients  can  follow  up  by  emailing  of  knowledge  of  the  books  it  handles  and  of  the Matt Lozan at mlozano@ipgbook.com.  markets  it  sells  to.  Midpoints  home  office  is  in   New  York  City  and  its  distribution  center  is  in Ingram Book Company  Kansas City.   Craig  Pollack   Prospective clients can follow up by emailing 14 Ingram Blvd., One Ingram Blvd.  ekampmann@aol.com and LaVergne, TN 37086  Chris@midpointtrade.com.  www.ingrambook.com   Craig.pollock@ingramcontent.com  New Shelves 615‐213‐5529  Amy Collins MacGregor and Bethany Brown  Currently  Ingram  works  with  more  than  25,000  103 Remsen St Ste 1 publishers  and  imprints  in  a  variety  of  ways.  The  Cohoes, NY 12047 Ingram content companies offer publishers a wide  www.thecadencegrp.com variety  of  services  including  wholesale  acollins@thecadencegrp.com distribution, print on demand, digital formats, and  bbrown@thecadencegrp.com full distribution services.  518‐391‐2300 
  3. 3. New Shelves Distribution offers high­quality sales,  New World Library, Counterpoint, Soft Skull Press, marketing,  warehousing,  order  processing,  and  McSweeneys,  MacAdam/Cage,  Shelter shipping services.  We pitch your books to the top  Publications, Ulysses Press and Gallup Press.  buyers  at  the  national  chains  as  well  as  the  top  Prospective  clients  can  follow  up  by  emailing independents  across  the  US.    Your  titles  will  be  Rose Anderson at Rose.Anderson@pgw.com. uploaded  to  Ingram,  Baker  &  Taylor,  Barnes  &   Noble, Borders, Books­a­Million, Amazon.com and  Small Press United many other industry wholesalers and retailers in a  Richard T. Williams  matter of weeks, not months.  814 N. Franklin Street Prospective clients can follow up by emailing  Chicago, IL 60610 acollins@thecadencegrp.com and  www.smallpressunited.com bbrown@thecadencegrp.com.   rwilliams@smallpressunited.com   312‐337‐0747 PGW/Perseus  Small  Press  United  (SPU)  provides  high  quality Elise Cannon and Kevin Votel   sales and distribution services to small publishers 1700 4th Street  of  print  and  electronic  books.  A  division  of Berkeley, CA 94710  Independent  Publishers  Group,  one  of  North www.pgw.com  Americas  largest  distributors,  SPU  works  closely elise.cannon@pgw.com  with  key  retailers  and  wholesalers  in  the  book kevin.votel@pgw.com  trade  to  bypass  traditional  long  lead  times  and 510‐809‐3730  bring titles  to  the  market  quickly,  and  announces Publishers  Group  West,  based  in  Berkeley,  CA,  is  new  titles  throughout  the  year  rather  than the  most  successful  exclusive  distributor  of  seasonally.    SPU  helps  publishers  maximize  sales independent  publishers  in  North  America.  PGW  as well as reduce risk and unnecessary expense.  represents over 130 exceptional presses including  Prospective  clients  can  follow  up  by  emailing best­selling  publishers  Grove/Atlantic  Monthly,  rwilliams@smallpressunited.com.   Notes:_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  4. 4. IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association http://www.ibpa-online.org/membersarea/shownews.aspx?id=2713 Site Map Privacy Statement Mission Statement Copyright Notice Shopping Cart Membership Johns Hopkins University Press is currently logged in. Click here to logout. Home Join / Renew IBPA Calendar of Events Do You Need a Distributor? What is IBPA? by Davida Breier Member Benefits December, 2008 Members Area Do You Need a Distributor? Resources by Davida Breier Independent Articles Do you wonder exactly what a distributor is and does? Do you think you might need one, but you are Publishers Resources not sure how it all works? If so, you’re invited to read on. Affiliate Organizations Definitions Seminars & Awards Member Directory A distributor acts as your sales force and fulfillment center and handles credit and collections. Master distributors warehouse their client publishers’ books, actively sell the titles to wholesalers and retailers, Marketing Programs and are exclusive to the trade. They try to get stock into the marketplace ahead of demand at the retail Featured Titles level. Vendor Resources Wholesalers, which newcomers often confuse with distributors, provide books to retail customers, are nonexclusive, and do not have sales forces. Generally, they are reactive rather than proactive about demand. What Distributors Do By serving as sales force, credit and collections staff, and general box packers, distributors leave publishers more time for editorial and marketing tasks and ideally generate enough additional revenue to more than cover their commissions and fees. Each distributor is a little different. It may be a matter of the size of the publishers represented, the types of publishers, the nature of the books, and/or the region the distributor covers. Some recognizable names include NBN, IPG, PGW, Consortium, Perseus, Atlas Books, Greenleaf, Midpoint, A&B, and SCB. Part of Ingram, the giant national wholesaler, is a distributor too. You can view a list at ibpa-online.org/pubresources/distribute.aspx. Some distributors focus on a single market, as Quality Books does for the library market. Some focus on multiple markets, which may include traditional bookstores, big-box stores (e.g., Costco, Target, Wal-Mart), religious bookstores, gift stores, libraries, and educational accounts. If you are ready to take a book national and want to sell to wholesalers such as Ingram and Baker & Taylor and to chains such as Borders and Barnes & Noble, you’ll probably need to partner with a distributor to have access to those accounts. When Publishers Don’t Need Distributors In many cases, it makes sense for small presses to start their publishing programs conservatively, begin trade penetration with a wholesaler like Baker & Taylor or New Leaf (for new age/alternative health titles), and sell direct via online retailers. Starting out slowly will help novice publishers avoid overly ambitious (and often expensive) marketing that results in low sell-though and high returns. A cautious startup period may also help them learn what works and doesn’t work with their publishing programs before they go national. Furthermore, many books successfully sold at seminars, direct-to-consumer, and via special sales will not be successful in the retail market. What a Distributor Requires Master distributors require exclusivity in the trade market because most accounts there will deal only with exclusive distributors. This is because of the confusion that would be created if more than one sales rep was selling the same book, and if more than one vendor of record supplied the book. Accounts may require one primary vendor to order from and return books to because their databases will not allow multiple vendors for the same ISBN.1 of 3 4/27/2011 1:07 PM
  5. 5. IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association http://www.ibpa-online.org/membersarea/shownews.aspx?id=2713 Distributors also require a good fit. They need to see that your audience meshes with their market. As they review new submissions, they look for evidence that you understand not only your target audience, but also their accounts, and they try to determine how the two of you will work together. In addition, they look for publishers who will continue publishing. If a publisher has only one book planned, the relationship with the distributor may be short-term. Distributors want to help their publishers grow. Understanding what a distributor does and explaining why you are seeking a particular distributor’s services will often impress more than simply saying you have $25K to spend on marketing. Many books are not suited for bookstore sales and do much better with special sales, academic and library sales, and sales through channels such as gift stores, special-interest stores, the Internet, and seminars. Distributors may direct you elsewhere if yours is one of them. Other common reasons distributors reject titles include prices that are too high, content with a great deal of competition (fiction, self-help, children’s books, and business are especially competitive categories), poor production quality, and insubstantial marketing. Costs Every distributor has different contract terms and services. Some also offer services a la carte. You will want to compare and contrast. Overall, you can expect to pay a distributor 18 to 30 percent of net sales. Reach Signing with a distributor doesn’t mean that a book will be in every bookstore in the country. That depends on individual buyers at both the corporate and retail levels. They decide whether or not to give your books precious shelf space. Please remember that distributors can only promise to present the book to buyers and to make the book available. However, one of the most important reasons to sign up with any distributor is that information about your book will be made available to a variety of databases utilized by nearly every retailer and wholesaler in the country. This means your book will be available for ordering when inquiries are made at a bookstore. Marketing Responsibilities Distributors are responsible for making sure clients’ books are available to the marketplace so that bookstores have them or can get them. Publishers are responsible for creating demand for their books and driving consumers into bookstores to buy them. Every book needs all the marketing and publicity help it can get. And you must sustain these efforts for the entire life of the book, not just for its first few months. Recipe for a Successful Relationship Always bear in mind that you and your distributor form a partnership, and that you each need to do your part to make it work. Your distributor counts on you to communicate information about your book, both before and after pub date, in a timely, concise fashion. The better the materials you provide, the better job your distributor and its sales force can do for you. Remember, within the trade market, stores are essentially buying on consignment, so your distributor wants to sell your books as much as you do, and no one likes returns. If you don’t understand something or just want more information, seek advice. Answering questions is always preferable to fixing mistakes. Make sure you understand your distributor’s schedule and boundaries. Listen to your distributor’s needs, and if you don’t see why the distributor wants certain information or paperwork, just ask. Davida Breier is marketing director of the master distributor National Book Network. To learn more about it, visit www.nbnbooks.com. To reach her, email dbreier@nbnbooks.com. Distributors, Wholesalers, Commissioned Reps: Whats Right for You? PMA-U 2008, Davida Breier2 of 3 4/27/2011 1:07 PM
  6. 6. IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association http://www.ibpa-online.org/membersarea/shownews.aspx?id=2403 Site Map Privacy Statement Mission Statement Copyright Notice Shopping Cart Membership Johns Hopkins University Press is currently logged in. Click here to logout. Home Join / Renew IBPA Calendar of Events How to Date Your Distributor What is IBPA? Davida G. Breier Member Benefits October, 2006 Members Area As head of sales and marketing for a master distributor I’m often asked to speak to publishers , about what distribution is and how it works. After a particularly harrowing conversation, I Resources finally realized there was an easy way to explain distribution in terms everyone could understand—dating. Independent Articles Publishers Resources Affiliate Organizations Let’s face it, publishing is all about passion. It is about hoping for what may happen in the face of overwhelming odds. It is about luck, timing, and often gut instinct. Sounds a lot like dating, Seminars & Awards doesn’t it? Member Directory Marketing Programs One of the first things I should explain is that working with a distributor generally means you Featured Titles need to be ready to make a monogamous commitment. Most distributors are exclusive, but you may see slight differences in how and where the boundaries extend. For example, Biblio Vendor Resources Distribution is exclusive for trade accounts (book retailers and wholesalers), but it leaves client publishers free to work with library distributors such as Quality Books or Unique Books, and to sell directly to consumers. If you are not ready for a monogamous commitment and want to continue to play the field, you might want to work with wholesalers, which offer more casual relationships. You can create a system of supply and demand with a wholesaler but you won’t , get dinner . . . I mean, a sales force. Making a Match If you do decide you are ready to settle down with a distributor you need to start looking , around. Don’t just go to your corner bar and hope for the best. Get out there (physically, on the phone, or online) and meet appropriate people. PMA has a list of distributors at pma-online.org/distribute.cfm. Take your time and review what each has to offer Ask around, . and ask for references. While you’re sizing up any potential distributor that distributor is going to be sizing you up. , Remember each of you is looking for a partner If you seem antagonistic or excessively , . high-maintenance, the distributor probably won’t want to work with you, no matter how great you and your books look. On the plus side, if you follow the distributor’s submission instructions, you’ll improve the odds of getting together. Make sure you have something in common. If your distributor sells only to colleges and your target audience is preschoolers, you will soon be throwing the good china at one another Your . consumer audience and the distributor’s accounts should exemplify a perfect union. You don’t want a distributor that takes every publisher that applies. I think you can see how the dating analogy (and the potential need for antibiotics) applies here. And bear in mind that no matter how right you are for one another no one partner can be your , whole world. If your books are right for multiple venues, don’t isolate yourself by counting on one distributor to do everything. Getting your book into bookstores is great, but so is getting them into libraries and nonbook stores and book fairs and places where the author is speaking, and those sales channels may be best handled on your own or with a separate sales force. Like any good partner your distributor should support you on these moves. , If you do find a distributor you like that likes you, don’t rush to the altar Read the contract . very carefully. Keep asking questions about any terms, fees, or conditions that you don’t1 of 2 4/27/2011 1:08 PM
  7. 7. IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association http://www.ibpa-online.org/membersarea/shownews.aspx?id=2403 understand until you are completely comfortable with the answers. Make sure you are both clear about your expectations. Something else you shouldn’t rush is the pub date. Your distributor has catalog and sales schedules that usually can’t be bent (although pleas for later deadlines are probably the most common request we get from our publisher partners). Distributors are at the mercy of their accounts, so use the schedule they must use and trust that they are working as fast as they can to sell your books. Neither one of you should sign the contract with the desire to change your partner as soon as the ink is dry. It is foolhardy to think that a distributor will change systems or sales channels to suit you. Likewise, a distributor shouldn’t expect that you will change what you publish or how you function. If you are lucky, you will develop a relationship with your distributor based on trust. The distributor trusts that you will deliver well-produced books on time, which you will support with smart and energetic marketing. You trust that the distributor’s sales force is out there advocating on behalf of your books (and your publishing company). Because books are generally sold to trade customers as returnable, understand that your distributor will try not to oversell (or undersell) your titles. Results will depend heavily on your marketing, so if you deliver what you promise, you should both be happy. Toward a Long and Happy Life Once you and your distributor have gotten past the honeymoon period around pub date, you still need to communicate with one another Your distributor might not know about your . reviews, awards, media coverage, and so on unless you report them. You can’t be angry if the wholesalers are out of stock on the eve of your big tour if you never told your distributor about it. Picking up your socks, not leaving dirty dishes in the sink— these are the day-to-day issues you need to work out with any partner If your distributor provides you with sales reports . (online or otherwise), you should learn how to read and use them. Calling your distributor monthly (or weekly!) to find out how many books have sold, and where, when you could have looked the information up yourself is much like leaving those dirty dishes in the sink. On the other hand, if your distributor isn’t responding to your legitimate questions, this should be cause for concern. If it has been a few days since you emailed or called and you haven’t received a reply (or an out-of-office reply), try a gentle reminder If that doesn’t work, try . another contact person. I’ve had publishers wait for answers to queries, growing angrier by the day, when it turned out that their emails went to invalid addresses. In the long term, raising a book can be a lot like raising a child. The more attention your child requires–whether the child is winning the science fair or stealing cars—the stronger the partnership needs to be. And believe me, we love watching your kids grow as much as you do. Davida Breier is the sales and marketing manager for Biblio Distribution (www.bibliodistribution.com), a master distributor that specializes in small and independent presses. IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association 627 Aviation Way Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 phone: 310-372-2732 · fax: 310-374-3342 e-mail: info@IBPA-online.org2 of 2 4/27/2011 1:08 PM

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