Exploring the Problem

April 2000
by Stan Trout

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Act 1:
Launching the Book
Let’s say you’ve written a really great book that you acknowledge is appealing only to a select niche audience, and you decide to publish it yourself in order to make it available to those few. Your interest is more in sharing knowledge than in commercial success; nonetheless, you have a really limited budget, and you’d like to at least come out even on your investment. You investigate the expenses involved, and you realize that just to have your book printed in a run of 2,000 copies is going to cost you around $7,000, or $3.50 per book. (This is a conservative estimate for a book of 250 pages.) You price the book at a current market value of $16.95, and assume this leaves a good margin for profit.
Think again. In the good old days, you could sell directly to independent bookstores at a 40% discount, but the days of selling directly to bookstores are long gone. Most of the independents have been swallowed up by the big guys, and all of them buy only through recognized Distributors. Nowadays, therefore, you must promote your book to a Distributor, who, if you’re lucky, takes on the book at a 55% discount. Then there’s the cost of shipping the books to the Distributor’s warehouse, fees for advertising in their catalog, not to mention the costs of advertising and promotion to the public in order to insure sales of the book. Still, it’s not impossible to accomplish all this on a limited budget.
Act 2:
Working with “Master Distributors”<P…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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