Though nobody’s immune to the bad economy, distributors haven’t taken as much of a hit as other groups in publishing this year.
“It’s easier in this economy to be working with a large distribution group,” says Eugenia Pakalik, Director of Sales and Marketing Distribution Services at Norton. The ideal IPM client, says Jane Graf, Director of International Publishers Marketing, is a “mid-size publisher who wants to focus on their publishing program and leave the cares and concerns over sales and marketing” to someone else.And while last year, distributors were just starting to roll out digital services for their clients, this year they have those services in place and are adding new ones. “This year, we extended our digital services to all of the publishers we work with,” says Kristen Sears of Greenleaf Book Group. “We’ve been working with Kindle since the beginning, but added Sony and Mobipocket to our list of partners in an effort to reach more eBook readers.”
Simon & Schuster also aims to provide the same digital services to its distribution services that are available to its own imprints, says Joe Bulger, VP, Client Management and Business Development. In addition to eBooks and POD support, clients can partake of iPhone applications, access to the digital catalog, and a new single-point-of-access digital sales portal that will eventually become a B2B hub for exchanging tip sheets, digital assets, and other files.
“We’re currently facilitating sales for clients through the Kindle and the Sony Reader,” says Marianne Bohr, Senior Vice President of the National Book Network, “and are announcing new partnerships at the rate of about one a month. NetLibrary, Zinio, and others will be announced shortly. We’re here to make it easier for publishers to realize digital revenues.”
Distributors are also exploring other services to help set them apart, and international sales are a growth area. For example, the Perseus Books Group offers international distribution to all PGW, Perseus, and Consortium clients. They can pick their coverage in an à la carte fashion—choosing from UK only, UK and open-market, Asia, and/or Latin America.
And Norton has thirty college travelers who visit universities around the country to sell textbooks and secondary texts to professors. “When you teach a literature course,” says Pakalik, “which edition of Crime & Punishment are you going to use? With all the public domain publications out there now, it’s about trying to have an edge”—whether it’s through an iPhone app or Dostovesky paperback.