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Fresh Eyes on Wholesaler/Distributor Options

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Janice ButlerWhen working on a project or presentation, I sometimes find that I need someone from outside the project circle to have a look and give feedback. Often, the fresh pair of eyes can make the difference between sending out something full of unintelligible internal acronyms and sending out an organized, informative document.

I thought about that when I got the opportunity to write this column for the Independent. At first, I was very excited, but as the deadline loomed, my excitement became threaded with a bit of anxiety. What could I write that would have value for publishers who belong to IBPA when many of them have been in the book business longer than I have?

Finally, it occurred to me that being a newcomer could be an asset. With five years’ experience in the book world and just a few months’ experience on the IBPA board of directors, I look at IBPA’s member benefits with fresh eyes, and I see truly exciting opportunities for publishers.

Because of the work I do with both physical and digital content, I’m most passionate about opportunities for making titles more widely available. As publishers work hard to curate new and exciting content, they typically rely on relationships with wholesalers and distributors to help provide that content to the marketplace. IBPA members have several special opportunities to form these relationships.

Wholesaler/Distributor Distinctions

As a reminder, here’s a summary of the differences between wholesalers and distributors:

A wholesaler is a conduit for getting titles to most traditional bookstores, online book retailers, and libraries. Wholesalers consolidate publishers’ titles in their warehouses and coordinate shipment and delivery of titles to retailers and libraries. Often wholesalers require certain title counts and/or certain sales volumes to establish a relationship with a publisher.

A distributor aggregates titles from several client publishers and provides access to wholesale and retail channels for those titles. Traditional distributors have sales teams that support publishers’ marketing efforts by selling directly to retailers and wholesalers.

Perhaps the most important distinction to note is that a relationship with a distributor is usually exclusive, but a publisher can have relationships with a number of wholesalers.

A Quick Look at Special Savings for IBPA members

IBPA provides several special opportunities for members interested in working with wholesalers and/or distributors.

At Ingram Content Group. As a large wholesaler, Ingram provides a broad range of physical and digital services to the book industry, including wholesale distribution services to independent bookstores, bookstore chains, Internet retailers, libraries, and specialty markets around the world.

For IPBA members, Ingram Content Group offers a package that includes wholesale and marketing options. With the Ingram package, publishers receive $650 off setup fees, and fees for co-op advertising in the Ingram wholesale channel are waived. To take advantage of this package, you must offer your titles with a 55 percent wholesale discount, fully returnable, and they will be set up for back order only.

Ingram also offers IBPA members a special program at Lightning Source, its print-on-demand service. Through the program, IPBA members receive 50 percent off digital file setup fees and volume discounts on printing. New titles printed and distributed through Lightning Source’s wholesale program are available at Ingram with no Ingram wholesale setup fees and are also eligible for the Ingram marketing program.

And Ingram offers IBPA members special rates for advertising in its publication Independent Voice, an electronic catalog distributed to more than 28,000 retailers and librarians in the United States and abroad. Special rates are also offered for inclusion in Ingram Advance, a comprehensive title listing and purchasing tool sent to more than 13,000 retailers and librarians in the United States and abroad.

At Baker & Taylor. Another large wholesaler, Baker & Taylor, distributes books, media, and music to domestic and overseas retail stores, Internet retailers, public and academic libraries, educational institutions. It offers IBPA members a $50 discount on Premium or Premium Plus wholesale vendor programs. Titles must be offered at 55 percent off list price and be fully returnable.

As part of the Premium or Premium Plus programs, Baker & Taylor offers IBPA members special access to advertise in one or more of its catalogs.

At Quality Books. A distributor with a range of services for publishers, Quality Books focuses on the library market and works to make small and independent press titles available to the library community. Its services include dissemination of flyers and representation at local and national trade shows.

Working with Quality Books, IBPA members are eligible to receive $105 off the regular fee for a Quality Books co-op program.

At Small Press United. Small Press United (SPU), a subsidiary of Independent Publishers Group, provides book distribution services for small publishers and reports to its client publishers on each day’s sales of their books through wholesalers and retailers. In addition, it offers tools for developing marketing and publicity campaigns, setting up tours, and contacting media.

A one-year membership in IBPA is included as part of the SPU contract with publishers. If publishers are already members of IBPA when they sign with SPU, SPU will cover their IBPA membership fees for the next year.

To Learn More

Information about all these opportunities is available in the Member Benefits section at ibpa-online.org. I hope that you’ll take a few minutes to look with fresh eyes at all the terms IBPA has negotiated with wholesalers and distributors—as well as with other companies in the book business—to help you grow and nurture your publishing company, regardless of your experience and its size.

Janice Schnell, a content acquisition account executive for Ingram Content Group, joined Ingram in January 2007. She has extensive knowledge of book publishing and offset and print-on-demand book manufacturing and distribution. To reach her, email janice.schnell@ingramcontent.com.



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