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Posts Tagged ‘Baker & Taylor’

Bookstores are in the business of selling books – period. So no matter how great you and your friends think you are, bookstores, especially the big chain stores, want books on their shelves that sell quickly. As a self-published author you will find it to be even more of a challenge to get your book on the shelves of the various bookstore chains.  Although it is hard, it is not impossible. It is important to know what you’re up against and how to work through some of the challenges. Below is a list of 5 reasons why bookstores aren’t fans of self-published books and what you can do to overcome it.

Reason #1: Low Sales Volume
Bookstores aren’t fans of self-published books because of the low average sales numbers. Bookstore chains need to sell a huge volume of books a month in order to keep the lights on and the doors open. Operational costs such as salaries, leases and utilities make it critical to sell books that help make the stores profitable.  Self-published books rarely sell the large numbers of books needed to pay big bookstore bills. In fact, various sources say that most self-published books sell an average number of 300 books.

Solution: You aren’t average right? Create a rock solid marketing plan for your book. Make sure you don’t forget to implement the necessary social media platforms such as Twitter® and Facebook®. Build your fan base and encourage customers to go to their local bookstore to order your book rather than the various online retail channels.  When customers continue to order your book from the bookstores and your sales increase, the stores will take notice.

Reason #2:  Unacceptable wholesale discounts
Bookstores expect wholesale prices when selling books in their stores. Wholesale prices are the discounted price bookstores pay you (or the publisher), which leave them with the ability to make a profit on the sale. Typically the wholesale price is 55% off the retail price of a book. So if you have a book that has a retail price of $20, the bookstore may expect you to sell it to them for $9.00. Many self-published authors use Print on Demand (POD) publishing companies to publish and print their book. Most POD publishing companies have a pricing program whereby they set the retail and wholesale price of your book, based on its specifications such as number of pages, color or black and white, hardbound or paperback. In turn, after paying for production cost it may leave an author with the inability to offer an acceptable wholesale discount price to bookstores.

Solution: If having your book in bookstores is something you desire, you may want to consider using printing methods that will allow you to have affordable production costs and the ability to set your own retail price.  This can be done by using an offset printer or a digital printer such as Lightning Source.

Reason #3: Your book isn’t returnable
Not only do bookstores want a wholesale discount; they also want the ability to ship unsold books back to you (or the publisher)for a full refund.  If you used a POD publisher chances are, they don’t allow refunds, which makes your book unattractive for shelving in their stores.

Solution: Avoid POD publishers that do not allow returns.

Reason #4 No bad book policing
Many POD publishers have contributed to the sub-par self-published reputation. This is largely because they rarely discriminate as to what they will publish and what they will reject (some don’t reject any). Because of the lack of “bad book” policing, bookstores have no way of ensuring the quality they receive from POD publishers. Although you gave money to the POD publishers, unlike the traditional publishers they are in the business of selling services, not your book. A traditional publisher won’t make money if your book doesn’t sell, so it benefits them to pay for the necessary editing, designing, and marketing. Traditional publishers suffer when books are returned, while POD publishers get paid whether people buy your book or not.

Solution:  Make sure you have a quality book as it relates to content and appearance. Make sure to invest in the necessary professionals to allow your book to compete on the same shelf space as books published from large publishing companies.  Hire professional editors, graphic design artists and typesetters to ensure that your book doesn’t look “self-published.”

Reason #5 Your book isn’t easy to obtain
Most online POD publishing companies will offer distribution to and other online retailers, but many of them lack the relationship to provide distribution to brick and mortar bookstores.  As mentioned above, bookstore have no intention of paying full price for your book.  So they need a middle man that will supply your book to them easily with the wholesale discount they want.  The distributor is the middle man between the publisher and bookstores. Some of the large bookstore distributors include Ingram Book Company and Baker & Taylor.

Ease of ordering has everything to do with your distribution channels.  If you want to be in bookstores, you have to get distribution outside the online book retail channels. Many of the large distribution companies have created printing companies that include access to their distributions channels.  Ingram Book Company owns Lightning Source.  If you print with Lightning Source your book will be included in the Ingram distribution channels.

I hope that helps.  If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line.

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