How Distributors And Wholesalers Affect A Book’s Journey Into Bookstores

When I started publishing acim, I thought a wholesaler and a distributor were essentially the same thing. Not so. Like so many small publishers do, I chose to print my books digitally through Lightning Source Inc, which is actually a subsidiary of Ingram Book Company. This makes all their books available for order in bookstores throughout the USA. AVAILABLE to order. That is the key phrase. This does not mean the books will magically appear on bookstore shelves. That is a different process altogether. Let’s examine the process.

The bookstores and Libraries can order from Ingram who in turn supplies books to bookstores and libraries from the distributor’s stock. How does this work?

It is confusing for authors when their books are printed digitally through Lightning Source, and the stores can order them through Ingram. In this case, Ingram acts both as wholesaler and as distributor. But Ingram doesn’t do most of what a distributor does.

4) If the publisher has a distributor, for example, we work with BOOKWORLD to distribute select titles, then the distributor’s iPage listing shows the book they handle for the publisher on the publisher’s iPage. This allows the publisher to watch the sales of the books handled by the distributor.

Offset printing is more time consuming and costly, but the per unit price is less. This is how you get print runs, THE magic term that opens doors. A print run of 2000 books is the first cost effective step above digitally printed books. Up to 1000 books, it’s pretty much a draw on the per unit price. But go beyond 1000 books, and the price per book drops precipitously, and this is essential for marketing to the trade and having any money left over for the publisher and the author.

When I started communicating with BookWorld, they wanted us to provide them with all our titles and allow them to be distributor for all our books, until I noticed in the fine print that I would need to have at least 1000 books of each title printed offset. This means print runs of 1000 for 50 titles at $3000 per print run, which tallies up to $150,000 in printing costs.

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