Distributors handle the warehousing, invoicing and delivery of books to whoever orders them—wholesalers, retailers, book clubs, bookstalls, authors, etc.
Wholesalers serve smaller retailers and Amazon, and promote our books to their networks. Most retailers and libraries prefer to place orders through a wholesaler so that they are getting from one source rather than dealing direct with many publishers and distributors.
Four months before publication we present titles to key trade wholesalers such as Baker & Taylor, Ingram, Bookazine and New Leaf in USA and Bertrams, Gardners, Westnedge and Bookspeed in UK. We also present titles to larger retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Hastings, BAM, NACS and Folletts in USA, Indigo in Canada, and Waterstones, Blackwell, Foyles, John Smith in UK. And we also present to library suppliers such as Brodart in USA, and to BDS and Yankee Book Pedlar in Europe.
Over the years we have built strong relationships in certain subject areas. For instance in the Mind/Body/Spirit sector we have close links with the book club Cygnus, and with specialist bookstores such as Watkins MBS Books in London, Banyen Books in Vancouver, and Mirabai in New York. In the Christian market we have close links with the wholesaler A Great Read. Our imprint for radical politics and culture, Zero Books, is popular with booksellers such as Blackwell, Foyles, Housman, Folletts, Powell’s and City Lights. In general, our trading terms are effectively sale or return (returnable) and we offer trade accounts a discount off the recommended retail price RRP of 35–55%. We never refuse returns from an event and often offer increased discount. Terms vary slightly in different territories.
- In addition to selling copies to readers, these outlets market and sell our books by publishing articles, reviews and adverts, hosting events, and displaying books on their shelves and websites. We also work closely with festival organizers, colleges and academic institutions, churches and retreats, arts centers and galleries, therapy centers and healing groups throughout the world, and we have similar relationships in all the different subject areas, like with politics and aesthetics in Zero Books.
- One month before publication we e-mail a newsletter to subscribed trade contacts and to fans to highlight special promotions, author signings, new and better-selling titles. These trade contacts include foreign publishers to whom we sell rights, and retailers, who are encouraged to pre-order new titles ready for launch.
- We cannot guarantee to get your book into shops. The strongest possibilities are in the independent, more specialist sectors. Chain stores will not in general stock books by first-time authors unless the author is already known, has great endorsements from well-known names etc. Supermarkets will only stock titles that are already selling a few thousand copies a week. More on expectations in Estimate of likely sales in Chapter 4.
We exploit every opportunity to have your book noticed by booksellers. We run adverts for qualifying titles in several trade catalogues published by wholesalers such as Ingram and by the trade press such as The Bookseller. These catalogues offer retailers details of new titles several months in advance of publication.
Distribution, currency exchange and the state of the book industry locally mean that sales outside North America and Europe can seem disproportionately low. Increasingly, most sales outside these areas are through the big online retailers such as Amazon. It is particularly hard to sell fiction in paperback in Australia and South Africa. In other parts of the world, the numbers of English-language speakers might be very high, as in India, but local retail prices do not make it possible to deliver and sell our books there.