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What is Special Sales?

(And how APSS can help you sell more books, more profitably.)


Sales through bookstores are declining every year. Yet there is still a need for the information and entertainment found in books. APSS is here to help you find the best ways in which to sell your books. This may be through bookstores or to non-bookstore buyers (people who can buy in large, non-returnable quantities), or most likely through some combination of the two.


Publishers of all sizes are learning that limiting sales only to traditional channels may be the least effective and most costly way to sell books. This understanding has spawned a different way to market books, one that increases sales, revenue and profits for those who take their products to people where they buy, rather than waiting for consumers to come to them. That in essence is special-sales (non-bookstore, non-traditional) marketing.


Special-sales marketing is not a separate way of doing business. It is not even a new way of doing business. It is an integral part of overall marketing strategy, an extension of what you are probably already doing. If you are selling to bookstores now, you can sell to special markets without changing your habits or inventing new skills.


APSS can help you sell your books through traditional means, but also assist you finding new and lucrative ways in which to sell your books. We can help you make your books available where your potential readers shop (bookstores, gift shops, catalogs), gather (seminars, libraries, associations) or work (offices, schools, hospitals).


The major difference between traditional book marketing and special-sales marketing occurs in the ways in which you make your content available in the places where people want, buy or use it.


APSS gives you strategies, examples, help, tips and tactics for making special-sales marketing accessible and profitable. Here you will find information about new markets in which to sell your books and discover tried-and-true ways to reach them. It sounds simple, and it is. But it is not easy. Here are several ways the APSS can help you become more profitable.


1)    Increased revenue. Increase your sales in a marketplace somewhat larger in size than the bookstore market. If you do not seek book sales outside of bookstores than you may be missing half of your potential. Or, to look at it from a different perspective, you could double your sales with additional marketing effort directed to non-bookstore markets.


2)    Recurring revenue. In special-sales marketing, your customers may place a standing order (a given number of books to be shipped automatically on some predetermined schedule) if your book is used as a textbook or a successful premium. This recurring revenue improves the velocity of your cash flow.


3)    Lower acquisition costs. Selling to an existing customer is less expensive than it is to acquire another customer. The more frequently people re-order your book, the more profitable each sale becomes. And an audience pre-sold on your existing content may greet a second edition -- or new, related titles -- warmly.


4)    Lower unit costs. The greater the quantity in which you print, the lower your unit cost will be. Therefore, some publishers print books and hold them in inventory to meet the just-in-time shipping requirements of some bookstores. Special-sales strategy permits you to hold low (or no) inventory, filling small orders through digital printing. Then you print longer runs to fill orders for large quantities of books.


5)    Increased profitability naturally follows, since the lower your unit cost the greater your profitability at the same selling price. In special marketing you print to fill orders since buyers – particularly non-retail buyers – usually buy in advance of a promotion and are willing to wait for delivery. Not only do you print to order (with no inventory costs), but the quantities are typically larger than you might produce to hold for potential bookstore sales. If you want some books to keep on hand, tack on a quantity to the special print run -- at a much lower price than if that quantity were printed alone. This tactic could increase your gross profit as demonstrated below for a 6” x 9” softcover book with 240 pages.

Example #1: Print 1000 books for a unit printing cost of
$ 3.04 and sell them to a bookstore through a distributor with a 65% discount off the list price.
List price: $19.95
Distributor’s discount: - $12.97
Publisher’s Revenue: $ 6.98
Unit Printing Cost: - $ 3.04
Publisher’s Unit Gross Profit: $ 3.94
Publisher’s Total Gross Profit: $ 3,940 (Before Returns)

Example #2: Print 10,000 books (9,000 to fill a non-returnable special-sales order and 1,000 for inventory) for a unit printing cost of $ 1.06 and sell the additional 1000 to a bookstore through a distributor with a 65%.
List price: $19.95
Distributor’s discount: - $12.97
Publisher’s Revenue: $ 6.98
Unit Printing Cost: - $ 1.06
Publisher’s Unit Gross Profit: $ 5.92
Publisher’s Total Gross Profit: $ 5,920


6)    Greater total sales. You can sell more books to an entirely new market segment simply by using a little creativity. Amy Schoen’s title, Get it Right This Time[1] is about helping single people meet their life-long partner. By thinking beyond the bookstore, Amy found opportunities selling her book to cruise ship lines, to florists and to online dating services for use as a premium to attract new business.


7)    Less competition. When you perform on the air, you may tell people to go to the bookstore to buy your book. But when the buyers get there, they see your title among all your competitors’ titles. On the other hand, when you make a sales call on corporations, government agencies or small gift shops you have the buyers’ undivided attention. Most likely, no other author or publisher has tried to contact them.


8)    Less discounting. When you sell to special markets, buyers may not have immediate access to competitive pricing. Product or brand managers are looking for a premium to boost the sales of their products, they do not know if yours is priced above or below competitors’ titles. They are only concerned with your book’s potential to increase the sales and profitability of their company’s products. 


9)    Fewer returns. Although some buy on a returnable basis (discount stores, warehouse clubs, supermarkets, airport stores) most non-retail buyers do not expect to return books.


10) More effective and efficient media exposure. If you are selling a title about improving someone’s tennis serve, a review or article in Tennis magazine would more efficiently reach prospective buyers than it would in The New York Times. Pinpoint promotion to carefully selected target market segments could reduce waste in your marketing expenditures.


11)  Negotiable terms. You may increase your flexibility in negotiations since discounts are not fixed and are typically based on the number of books purchased. Even if you negotiate a 50% discount with a buyer, you are 5 – 20% better off than selling that same book through bookstores. There are also non-price variables open to negotiation, such as shipping expenses and payment terms.


12) Improved cash flow. In special-sales markets, many orders are for multiple copies or for standing orders, minimizing your costs to fulfill orders. Some businesses purchase your products at list price and pay you in less than 90 days. Government agencies are obligated to pay you interest if your uncontested invoice is not paid within 30 days.



Join APSS now and we can help you sell more books in large, non-returnable quantities than you ever thought possible.


Can we help you sell more books? APSSolutely!










[1] Get It Right This Time™- How to Find and Keep Your Ideal Romantic Relationship, by Amy Schoen;

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