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Distribution Truths

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Distribution Truths

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Latest Activity: Jul 22, 2015

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Adapt distribution to each title

Started by Brian Jud Jul 22, 2015. 0 Replies

Many publishers get into a routine of doing without planning. They feel it is more important to get the book out and on the shelves, and they do so using the same distributors and techniques they did…Continue

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Find a need and fill it

Started by Brian Jud Jul 12, 2015. 0 Replies

The most efficient distribution system will not boost the sales of a title unwanted by people in its target market.Continue

Three strategies for growing markets

Started by Brian Jud Jul 1, 2015. 0 Replies

Three strategies for growing markets over the long-term. 1) Distribution extension. Instead of distributing your books only through bookstores, expand your distribution to other retail outlets such…Continue

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How to get in a book distributor’s door?

Started by Brian Jud Feb 10, 2015. 0 Replies

"There are a few things you can do to get in the distributor’s door. First, personal contact. Getting to the decision maker can help a lot. Second, references. If you have someone backing your…Continue

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Comment by Tony Burton on November 14, 2010 at 11:15am
Wow, that's a complicated mess there.

It's fine to have a seller's account on Amazon. However, that's not the same status as being a "vendor of record" with B&N.com.

The problem with distribution and wholesaling is that they often overlap, even though technically they are different beasts. All the true distributors I know will require exclusivity--meaning, they are the ONLY source for your titles to anyone who wants to buy at wholesale.

Yes, LSI would replace your vendor-of-record with B&N, as far as I know. But you can still have an individual seller account on Amazon. I've done it with no problems--used it to sell autographed books, used books, etc. But it DOES depend on what sort of Amazon seller account you have. I only do casual sales, so Ihave the Individual account and don't pay the monthly fee for a Professional account--it didn't make sense to do that for me.

As to B&N or Amazon or any other online bookseller getting books from LSI, they will list them AND order and sell them whether you have an account with them or not. I have no B&N account, yet all in-print books from my company get listed there. That gets past the in-stock point. The only titles of mine that ever go to "not in stock" are the ones that are out of print, and even those sometimes are available from 3rd-party sellers.

Also, about returnability: most of my books are not returnable, and they are available through both Amazon and B&N.com, as well as a few other online stores, so whoever gave you that information is wrong. Typically it's the brick and mortar stores that draw the line at non-returnable books.

And, sure, you'll sell more books if you give a 55% discount... you'd probably sell even more if you gave a 70% discount, but you'd go broke! But you don't HAVE to cut it that low. I sell books through Amazon and B&N.com, as well as through some brick and mortar stores, with my books being discounted from 40% to 50%. (I have a couple discounted to 35%, but that doesn't usually happen.) I am one of those who, because I sell a lot of fiction titles, likes to sell through brick and mortar stores as well as online... so, I compromise on the discount. If I were totally focused on online sales, I'd probably do like Dave Bricker does, and consistently set the discount much lower, maybe 25% or 30%.

The thing is, Amazon is such a big elephant, they get the advantage of ordering directly from LSI rather than going through a distributor or wholesaler. So, they don't lose the cut that the wholesaler/distributor usually takes (somewhere from 15% to 25%, depending on volume and the individual contract), and that's why they can consistently undercut brick and mortar stores. I'm pretty sure B&N.com does the same thing, but I'm not certain of that. They seem able to match Amazon on pricing, though.
Comment by A marketing maven on November 14, 2010 at 11:10am
Donna -

Let me jump back in here as I think I gave you some of this information.

Going to LSI is an appropriate move for you. It will make your life easier (hopefully) and give you the opportunity for increased sales. You do still have to do the publicity/marketing to drive people to buy your book, right? (<:

First, as to Amazon. When you go to Amazon now, your book is shown as "available from these sellers" with you being the only seller. You are a "Marketplace" seller now - and you can continue that method of selling. I use my Marketplace account for damaged books that come back to me for one reason or another, but you can sell new or "hurt" books - usually two different marketplace entries due to the difference in price. None of that will change.

What will happen when you establish your distribution agreement with LSI (different than opening an account with them - more paperwork), you will get a "front listing"- "In Stock and available from Amazon.com" You'll find that many, many more people will purchase your book when it is directly available from Amazon. Why? They know and trust Amazon (they don't know you), they can combine your book with other purchases to get free shipping, use their one click ordering and so on. Being "in stock" is a very good thing.

The one possible downside is you can't control what price they charge for your book. This is where your discounting strategy with LSI comes in to play. You can only set one discount, not differing discounts for various buyers from LSI. In order for a book store to order your book, it has to be at least 40% discount and returnable - otherwise they will tell potential buyers that they can't get it. They need that kind of margin to make it worth their while. Amazon will also be happy with 40% and may or may not discount your book at that price - that doesn't really matter to you, you get the same $$ whether they do or don't discount it. Ingram (LSI's parent and the largest wholesaler of books in the US) on the other hand, wants 55% and returnable, because they have to give their clients, the book stores, 40% to meet their margins. This opens up a whole new set of buyers for you - other marketplace sellers who "claim" to have your book, but really don't (they'll get it from Ingram is they get an order), all the independent book stores who already buy from Ingram, some libraries and so on. So, with some good marketing on your part, you can see how your sales can increase - much more availability through channels that trade book buyers (and therefore consumers) are used to buying from.

The strategy of 20% discount, non-returnable goes like this. "No book seller is going to ever order my book and I don't want to risk any returns, and I don't want my book discounted ever on Amazon, so I will limit my discount to the lowest possible and all consumers will have to pay full price all the time - I don't care." That is a perfectly acceptable strategy, but it will limit your sales. That is totally up to you.

All of this has nothing to do with your Marketplace seller account. You'll continue to sell there if you want. Amazon will order from LSI. BN will order either directly from LSI or through Ingram, and now you will have the opportunity for all of Ingram's other customers to be exposed to your book (you will pay a fee to be in their catalog). The amount you end up selling will depend on two things: the discount you set at LSI and your ongoing marketing for your book.

I hope that clears up your confusion, but feel free to ask again if I left anything out.

Carol

Carol White Marketing * P O Box 1115 * Wilsonville, OR 97070
The Marketing Maven * www.carolwhitemarketing.com * 888 522 8747
Speaker, Writer & Marketing Coach
A member of IBPA, SPAN, NSA, & NWABP
Official Marketing Coach for About Books, Inc.
Follow me on Twitter: amarketingmaven
Comment by Donna Scrima-Black on November 14, 2010 at 10:03am
Thank you Tony and Dave for your responses. I'm a little confused, so maybe you can clarify a few points if you would be so kind:
In addition to my own website--
1.I currently have a "sellers" account from which I sell my books from Amazon.
2. I also am the Vendor on Record on B&N.com, so their purchase orders are directly to me.
In order to increase on-line sales and to have a distribution channel (I read the Carla King article listed above) I'm starting an account through Lightining Source (also to use as a source to print future books). So my goal in doing this is to increase on-line book sales, more exposure in general--and any increase in sales--not to the brick and mortar book stores, I realize. So here's my confusion: When speaking with the L.Source. sales rep, she advised by going through them, L.Source would become the vendor on record with B&N.com. For Amazon, I received conflicting info from a few sources as to whether the Lightning Source would replace my "seller" account or become another account --in addition to my seller-account. The Lightning Source Rep said if I don't cancel my Amazon seller account, Amazon won't buy from Lightning, but from me. Another writer shared she has a Lightning Source Amazon account (which gives her a "real" Amazon Page, and gets "front-listed"???( Idon't know what that means)-plus her own "seller" account on Amazon for authrgraphed copies. So, logistically, I'm confused on how this happens. Can and should I have 2 accounts with Amazon?
At the root of my confusion is, I thought my Lightning Source Account is the way to enhance/increase my sales through the exposure. Additionally it's a way to decrease printing lots of books using the POD publishing. It's also a way to replace my on-line contact with B&N.com (as they do not support Indies in stocking--I always have to call them to order books because I'm not found on B&N once the few books they order are sold) to remain "in-stock." Additionally, it was my understanding that many book stores, including the on-line ones will not buy a book if it's "non-returnable" (B & N.com being one of them). The Lightning Rep also advised using a 55% discount to increase all sales--even on-line. But after reading your input, I don't know if that's the best scenario for me..
I know there are many questions in here, but if you could clarify if you currently sell through Lightning and the benefits and correct some of my confusion about discounts and returns..Thanks soooo much...
Comment by Dave Bricker on November 12, 2010 at 6:41pm
Donna,

I publish through Lightning Source and set a seller's discount of 20%. Basically, because of their 50% model, I have nothing to do with bookstores. There are plenty of other venues that will put me in front of readers without taking a commission. As Tony's comment suggests, indy writers do best to think outside the bookstore.

See my blog post at http://onehourselfpub.com/?p=310
Comment by Tony Burton on November 12, 2010 at 6:11pm
Donna,
Sad to say, many booksellers will shy away from a book even if it IS returnable, if it is produced POD. I think this is short-sighted of them, but that's the way it often is. I don't often set my discount as high as 55%. Usually it's between 40% and 50%. Here's the thing, though: as a self-publisher, you are making a mistake if you aim at bookstores with all your arrows. Make use of Amazon, B&N.com, and any other online venues you can find. Booksellers (with rare exceptions) usually shy away from self-published books, and especially when produced by POD. I sell more books online than I sell through storefront sales. It doesn't make a lot of sense to dedicate a lot of time, effort, and money to markets where they sniff at your product or treat it as second-class. Sell it through/to those markets where it will get equal treatment, or at least as close to equal treatment as is possible.

My tuppence worth, anyway.
Comment by Donna Scrima-Black on November 12, 2010 at 5:59pm
I published my book myself through a printer and creating a publishing company. I sell through my own website, B & N.com and Amazon. I just started an account with Lightning Source to help get my title out there and to increase sales. I'm so confused by some conflicting informtion. Do I have to offer a 55% discount so the B&N etc. don't shy away from my title, and should I offer returns--do bookstores pause before ordering non-returnable books, even from a POD. I want to sell as much as possible with a reasonable discount--I wanted to use 40%, but I've been told that 55% is what the bookstores use as standard and order the most from..INSIGHT--on both issues--Pretty Please..Donna .
Comment by Gary Roberts on July 23, 2010 at 4:00pm
Sandra

Speaking as a retired librarian, it's near impossible to get your own title accepted and purchased by a public library by simply showing up and offering your work. Libraries work through any one of a number of companies (B&T, Ingram, Wiley and so on) and avoid individual authors and small publishers. You should try to get your book reviewed in one of the library journals as a start. If you can interest a local public library in your book, you may then have an inroad to one of the librarian email lists or blogs that are also used by collection development people.

Try asking your local Madison library people to talk up the title to other librarians. It could work in your favor. With the tight budgets for libraries everywhere, choice of titles has become even more of hurdle as well as an indication of how well a particular library is doing.
Comment by Sandra Adell on June 22, 2010 at 7:22am
Hi, Everyone!

Things are looking up! My application to Baker & Taylor was accepted, so now I have a distributor. I would love to hear from any of you who might be working with B&T. I am targeting especially public and academic libraries and Baker & Taylor has a stronghold on that market. When I went to some of the libraries in Detroit and Chicago, which have lots of libraries, I was told over and over again that the collection development librarians only order through B&T. Here in Madison, Wisconsin, since I'm a local author and this is a small library market, copies of my book were ordered through Amazon. Librarians in the larger cities said that they only order through B&T. Distribution is so key to our work. So much for selling books out of the trunk of our cars.
Comment by Philip F. Harris on April 23, 2010 at 8:31am
All Things That Matter Press publishes exclusively through Amazon. We have over 50 books and have, overall, been pleased with the quality and support from Amazon. Titles that take off well are put into expanded distribution which gets them on B&N, Ingrams, B&T, Books-A-Million, Amazon.uk, .de and France. These channels are a killer on royalties but they are books sold that might not have. Our emphasis in on-line sales and we make almost no effort to get into brick and mortar stores. Amazon corrects mistakes and never asks for any flaws in books to be returned. We use MobiPocket for ebooks since they automatically generate the Kindle version of the book-they are owned by Amazon.
Comment by Steven Kern on April 19, 2010 at 11:57am
Looking for ways to get your books out to Amazon, publishers or even individuals that may buy your book from your personal website?

I work for a fulfillment company that can help when it comes to the; storage of books, shipment of books, taking orders etc. We currently work with clients who fulfill orders to Amazon and other distribution points they use to sell their books and I would be more than happy to help in any way I can when it comes to your books. It doesn't matter if you need orders shipped daily, weekly or even quarterly just let me know what you need and I will do what I can.
Feel free to email me and I will answer any questions you may have and do what I can to help save you time, money and worry.

Thanks,
Steven Kern
steven@dwmailllc.com
 

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