Doubling as a Distributor

February 2004
by Carolyn Sakowski

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In 2004, John F. Blair, Publisher, will celebrate its 50th birthday. When Mr. Blair died in 1986, his lawyers recommended that his heirs close the company because, as they put it, he had “squandered his personal fortune” on his publishing company. Mr. Blair’s sister, and principal heir, pointed out that he had no wife or children, and that he had literally died at his desk, doing what he loved. She noted that he might have had more of a fortune than anyone realized.

When Mr. Blair’s heirs decided to keep the company open as long as the family was not asked to contribute additional funds, the staff chose to tighten its focus and concentrate on publishing regional books–a formula that allowed the company to build a solid financial footing. Currently, Blair publishes 15 to 20 new books annually, all of which have some connection to our region, the Southeastern United States.

Taking on distribution clients made the financial footing even firmer. Interestingly, when I was pulling figures together for the 50th birthday celebration, I discovered that there will be 181 Blair books in our spring catalog (new and backlist) and 176 titles from our various distributed lines (new and backlist). Our distribution arrangements create economies of scale both for us and for the client publishers. In addition, they double the perceived size of Blair and dramatically increase the outreach of each distributed press. For example, a catalog from a small press…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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