How to Date Your Distributor

October 2006
by Davida G. Breier

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As head of sales and
marketing for a master distributor, I’m often asked to speak to publishers
about what distribution is and how it works. After a particularly harrowing
conversation, I finally realized there was an easy way to explain distribution
in terms everyone could understand—dating.


Let’s face it, publishing is all
about passion. It is about hoping for what may happen in the face of
overwhelming odds. It is about luck, timing, and often gut instinct. Sounds a
lot like dating, doesn’t it?


One of the first things I should
explain is that working with a distributor generally means you need to be ready
to make a monogamous commitment. Most distributors are exclusive, but you may
see slight differences in how and where the boundaries extend. For example,
Biblio Distribution is exclusive for trade accounts (book retailers and
wholesalers), but it leaves client publishers free to work with library
distributors such as Quality Books or Unique Books, and to sell directly to
consumers. If you are not ready for a monogamous commitment and want to
continue to play the field, you might want to work with wholesalers, which
offer more casual relationships. You can create a system of supply and demand
with a wholesaler, but you won’t get dinner . . . I mean, a sales force.


Making a Match


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