PRESIDENT’S REPORT: Behind the Trade Distribution Decisions

October 2005
by Kent Sturgis

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I came away feeling both
exhilarated and sad after sitting in recently with the committee that meets
twice a year to select titles for PMA’s Trade Distribution Program.

It felt good seeing all the
excellent work from small, independent presses whose titles found the elusive
trade distribution they deserve, sometimes after much struggle. Yet only about
20 percent of 188 titles submitted to the program in August were accepted. And
this was the part that felt like a wake, mourning books that had not survived
the process, despite being the product of someone’s hard work, investment, and

Some submissions did not make the
cut for reasons that the publishers could have done little or nothing about
(except not publish). Some titles would have met the program’s requirements
with only minor modifications.

The Trade Distribution Program was
organized in 1992, while Bob Erdmann was PMA president, to help member
publishers get distribution at the bookstore level, as that became increasingly
difficult for independent publishers to arrange. Twice a year, executive
director Jan Nathan convenes a committee comprising representatives of Ingram,
Baker & Taylor, National Book Network, Barnes & Noble, Independent
Publishers Group, and independent rep groups to consider titles members have
submitted, which must not have been previously presented to or stocked b

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