Is Working with a Distributor Right for You?

February 2005
by Jen Linck

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A master distributor acts as your sales force and fulfillment center. Many people confuse distributors with wholesalers, often using the terms as if they were interchangeable. But there are important differences between wholesalers such as Ingram and Baker & Taylor and master distributors such as NBN, Biblio, BookWorld, Consortium, IPG, and PGW.

Here are the primary functions of each:

Wholesalers serve as warehouse/replenishment centers for retail customers; they do not require exclusivity and they do not have sales forces. In general, they are reactive rather than proactive.

Master distributors handle warehousing and fulfillment for publishers; they require exclusivity as far as the book trade is concerned; and they do have active sales forces. In general, they are proactive.

Small pressesoften start out by making their books available through as many wholesalers as possible, as well as through the Amazon Advantage program and local bookstores. Once you’ve done that and begun to establish your publishing program, you might start considering a master distributor.

Here’s why you may want to work with one:

You want to have your books sold to B&N, Borders, Books-A-Million, etc., on a national level.You want your books to be available through Ingram to reach stores that buy only through Ingram.You can’t afford a sales force of your own.You’re tired of packing books in your ga…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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