How Ingram’s New Policy Hurts

August 2004
by Steve Carlson

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Bookstore customers are much less likely to buy smaller publishers’ books as a result of policies that Ingram Book Co.–the biggest bookstore wholesaler–recently instituted. Ingram has dropped not only self-publishers but many well-established small royalty-paying publishers.

While the loss of one wholesaler may not seem like a big deal for a publisher, most bookstores buy most of their books from Ingram. Therefore, losing Ingram means losing a huge part of the bookstore market.

It will be interesting to see what trends develop as a result. Perhaps all small publishers who care about bookstore sales will take on the high added cost of working through exclusive distributors. Or perhaps bookstores will purchase more often from wholesalers such as Baker & Taylor that do work with small presses.

But for now, small presses and their customers are faced with a serious setback.

What Happened to Us

My small company, Upper Access, provides an example. Since 1986, we’ve been publishing one, two, or three new titles per year. We introduce new authors and nonmainstream ideas, and we take chances on some of the less-commercial works by established authors. Our books typically sell between 5,000 and 15,000 copies. Not all of them do well in bookstores–some sell mainly to libraries or nonprofits or directly to retail customers. But bookstore sales are good for some of our titles, and we definitely don’t like to write t…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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