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Publishing University/BEA 2001 Recap Plus Ingram’s New Publisher Policy

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Suppose you were about to close your office for a three-day weekend, during which you were going to be traveling across the country to present your annual big event. Just then, you received a phone call from the hotel telling you that they had canceled your large ballroom and exhibit hall for which you had a contract, and had moved you into the basement! Such was the case this year with us for PMA’s Publishing University. All of our signs, all of our programs, all of our onsite material had been shipped to the hotel and it all now contained erroneous information about our meeting rooms. And there was no time or way to change that since we didn’t know where our event would now be taking place. Why did this nightmare happen? Well, it seems that Microsoft wanted to make a big announcement about a new product and they could only make that announcement from a room that had been ours from December on! The hotel more or less agreed that it was breaching our contract, but we discovered the power of Microsoft.

What happened to Publishing University? Well, we all adjusted and made the event happen in the best manner possible. The attendees were a little confused, since many of the seminar rooms printed in our onsite program were changed and our signs were incorrect as well. But after some wandering around, and with help from PMA people posted in the halls, attendees managed to get to their classes and to enjoy the learning process that Publishing University presents. But I must admit that we looked forward to Friday and just having to work Book Expo America.

Changes at Ingram

A major announcement regarding the way Ingram will now work with small presses and self-published authors was made at the University during one of the classes by Debbie Pressnell of that company. They have closed the Ingram Express program and will now refer new inquiries in the above categories to Xlibris; Lightning Source, Inc.; and a new division of the National Book Network, Biblio Distribution. Also, Ingram continues to refer new publishers to PMA and its Trade Distribution Program (see page XX this month for the best-selling titles in the PMA program). Ingram will only do business with small publishers who have a distributor or one of the above relationships. Why did this happen? One of the primary reasons is the emergence of Print on Demand and the huge number of publishers entering the marketplace. With approximately 10,000 titles coming into being each and every month, it is no longer feasible for anyone to determine which titles can really make it as a national sale. Ingram found itself with X number of copies sitting on shelves in their warehouse for months, none selling. This is not profitable for anyone. Therefore, they decided to revise how they would do business.

We recognize, however, that not all publishers will be able to be served by Biblio and/or PMA’s Trade Distribution Program. What currently exists for these companies is a relationship with Baker & Taylor as a major wholesaler, as well as other wholesale relationships. Regional, as well as niche distributors/wholesalers, are also another consideration for the smaller independent publisher. There are still ways in which a new publisher can receive recognition and we encourage all to be creative in their thinking.

BEA briefing

The BEA in Chicago seemed to have less people in attendance than previous years and was definitely a quieter show than in the past. We did not yet receive the “official” count of traffic, but at the PMA aisle, we were busy constantly. We had a fortunate location (and great titles and publishers with us in our complex), so we experienced constant and good traffic. There were independent booksellers, though they seem to get less and less each year; there were many foreign rights agents (this is definitely getting to be a foreign rights show); and there were catalogers and other premium people looking for product. Yes, it’s an expensive show. But all it takes is one great contact and the show is worth it for a publisher.

Looking ahead

Next year, the BEA moves to New York City (Javitz Center), and it also will be held one month earlier than normal (May 3-5, 2002). That means that PMA’s Publishing University will be held April 30, May 1-2, 2002, and that the Benjamin Franklin Call for Entries will also be shifted up one month. Look for your Call for Entries to arrive this month, and please help our judges by entering those titles you have published during January to June of this year into the first call so that they can have sufficient time to delve into all the entries.

Now, it’s on to the American Library Association (ALA) annual show in San Francisco. We want to thank all our members who participate with us at Publishing University, BEA, and ALA, and look forward to seeing many of you at the Regional Bookseller Shows this fall.

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