A few weeks ago, I attended Book Expo 2018 in New York City. It was my first visit in two years, having missed the Chicago show of 2017, and I was struck by the size and quiet on the floor. The Expo may not have the same value as it used to for traditional, mainstream publishing. However, in the continuously emerging indie publishing industry there is a lot to see and learn. Here are some of the things I brought back to share with the indie world—authors, publishers, and those who serve them.
1. Bar Codes: I recently heard from some book professionals that it was imperative to have a price in the bar code on the back of a book. I took the question to the highest authority on the subject at the BISG (Book Industry Study Group). His answer was that the bar code is the identifier for the book, generated off of the ISBN and nothing else should be displayed in or on it. He mentioned that there is discussion in the industry about not putting prices on books at all. What other product comes with a price engraved on itself?
2. Distribution: POD (Print-on-Demand) is used by many businesses in the indie publishing world, but this method often makes distribution to brick-and-mortar stores difficult to achieve. I spoke with several different distributors at Book Expo 2018, including IngramSpark (a POD distributor) to find out how an indie publisher might be able to work with them. In general, distributors are looking for publishers who release at least ten titles per year. While there are exceptions to every rule, the increase in small publishers has encouraged companies to be more efficient and choosy about which ones they represent. A few distributors to mention are: NBN; Consortium; Independent Publishers Group; and Baker and Taylor.
3. Fulfillment Options: Many indie publishing companies are selling books through multiple channels. IngramSpark/POD is one channel, but you can also order copies in quantity and set them up for fulfillment by a third party. One of these is Amazon Advantage. The shopping cart on your site can link to your Amazon Advantage account, which allows you to have copies stored at an Amazon warehouse. Customers will click the “buy” link on your site and Amazon will fulfill the order behind the scenes. You can still sell on Amazon through the POD channel, and also set up an Advantage account to sell direct. Amazon Advantage also allows you to utilize many advertising opportunities that can help move copies.
Check back in the coming weeks as I go through my notes from Book Expo 2018 and bring you more insight into what’s going on in the indie publishing world!