President’s Message: Notes from the Distribution Discussion

November 2001
by Linda Ligon

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The PMA Board meets once each quarter for a couple of pretty intense, issue-filled days. It’s a lively, diverse group representing a broad spectrum of the industry: publishers both general and specialized, companies both large and small. Most of its attention goes to planning PMA marketing and educational programs, member benefits, and such. At a recent meeting, though, our conversation over lunch turned to distribution.

Representatives from two national distributors are on the board, and publisher-members include some who manage their own rep groups, some who work with an outside distributor, some who hand-sell their own books, and various combinations. We all agreed that, in the coming year, distribution will be a pressing issue for many independent publishers. The conversation was all over the place, and none of us felt we had definitive answers. However here are some remarks worth thinking about:

• It’s important to develop marketing channels other than the book trade–most pay better and have fewer returns.

• If your book fills a genuine need, you won’t be troubled by excessive returns. Be objective and critical of what you’re putting out there.

• Some of the larger independent publishers today started as one-title publishers–but their kind of growth has gotten much harder to achieve in today’s distribution and retail climate.

• If you’re a small publisher, don’t expect t…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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