Don’t Forget the College Market

May 1999
by Nick Weir-Williams, Northwestern University Press

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It’s tempting as we go around chasing Internet sales and working out how to get more titles into fewer bookstores to forget about an important market. For relatively little effort, this market can supply not only sales today, but sales next year and every year. Those sales are to be found in the college market, and no matter how trade-oriented your book might be, somewhere someone is teaching a course that might find your book useful. One of the goals of all publishers is to create backlist. Backlist books are made, not born. Creating ongoing sales into a college or university market is one of the best ways to create a backlist. It can be especially important when the returns are coming in from the chainstores and there’s no more publicity channels to follow up.Our Experience at NorthwesternI’ll start with the example of our own press at Northwestern University. Building from a specialist list in Eastern European literature and a literary magazine, we have built up a strong and award-winning literature list. We now specialize in fiction in translation but also have an imprint in American fiction and poetry. The primary sales route for these titles is through the book trade in the first instance, and we rely on our reps to get the books into the stores and on reviews to get them out into the hands of the buyers. But except for the award-winners, that realistically only moves around half of the initial minimum print run that we require. The follow-up sales are into the c…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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