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Making Transformation Happen … For All of Us

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by John Ingram, Chairman, Ingram Content Group

Editor’s Note: John Ingram, chairman of Ingram Content Group and the company he’s led over the past 20-plus years, was recently honored by Book Industry Study Group (BISG) with its award of excellence. Below is his acceptance speech, reprinted here with permission.

John Ingram

“It’s an honor to receive this award from BISG. One thing that’s certain is that Ingram Content Group’s transformation from a physical book distributor to a comprehensive publisher services provider has happened because of collaboration and a shared vision for keeping the book business strong and relevant. Our transformation is enabling the work that matters: connecting books of all kinds and in all formats with people.

It’s been a remarkable, and at time circuitous, journey at Ingram—one that continues to unfold.

When I took over the business, which, in 1995 was still primarily a book wholesaling business, I had no idea what the future might hold. But, without a doubt, I was committed to our company’s success and that of our industry. As an English major and avid reader, I also had a personal commitment to ensuring books (and, at that time, in forms yet unknown) remained a significant part of our world. I wanted Ingram to continue to be part of helping books reach readers far and wide.

Since 1995, much change and transformation has happened. Ingram’s center of gravity has certainly shifted. While our wholesale business continues to be an important part of our strategy, we’ve become a much more robust services company that’s focused on helping other players succeed—publishers, libraries, and educators, in addition to retailers.

Many things have played a role in our transformation: people, technology, and consumer expectations, among others. We’ve learned to embrace change and innovation, and make them part of our culture. Our ongoing pursuit of relevance has led us to experiment and find new ways to evolve, expand, and improve our business and services. And, as always, we work to be true partners.

Real transformation doesn’t come easily, quickly, or in a straight line. One example is our print-on-demand (POD) service. Now a large and thriving part of our business, it struggled in the beginning. Independent publishers were a driving force behind POD’s success at Ingram. It was a way for you to get your content to consumers through Ingram’s distribution connectivity. Now with services such as IngramSpark, POD continues to make it easier for publishers of all sizes to sell more content throughout the world.

At Ingram, we talk a lot about transformation and working on the projects and services that will change our business and our industry. My hope is that the idea of transformation echoes throughout the book business. Let’s continue to work together to provide the fuel for others to learn, grow, prosper, and make their own transformations happen.”

John Ingram was named chairman of the Ingram Industries Inc. Board of Directors in April 2008, having served as vice chairman of the board since 1999. He is also chairman of Ingram Content Group Inc.

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