Tuesday 7 February 2023

Some reminders about our distribution patterns

Service, Delivery, Tracking, Logistic

One of our authors raised a couple of questions about this the other day so I thought I’d do a little recap here.

All of our Bridge House, Red Telephone books and some of our Chapeltown books are distributed via Ingrams whose print on demand service, Lightning Source, we also use. The fact that we are hooked to good distributors and the books have an ISBN means that any book shop can acquire them and they also appear in online catalogues. So, you’ll see your book in Waterstone’s online, Tesco online, Barnes and Noble etc. Waterstones adds an extra gatekeeper; they just won’t handle certain books. Fortunately we are approved publishers and they will handle our books.  Some branches will host events for local authors. It depends very much on the branch though and how supportive they are. For example, the Deansgate branch in Manchester is. Bury, my home town, isn’t!

Another author reported recently that a library would not take her book as it was self-published. Here they are confusing print-on-demand with self-publishing; our books go through three stages of editing and three post camera-ready proof reads They have professional text and cover design. Plus we have a marketing strategy that we keep refining.

Some books we publish via Amazon KDP. These are all the CafeLit serials and the later Best of books.  Since Brexit exporting to any country has become very difficult.  There are fees to pay and forms to fill out. Brexit has affected not just exports to the EU but to many other countries including the US. Our trade agreement with many countries was as an EU member. Amazon KDP gets round this nicely as the books are always printed and shipped locally.   

There are some other advantages and disadvantages of the two systems:

Ingrams is more expensive in two ways. We have to pay set up costs – currently about £86.00 including a proof copy. Then we have to pay £8.50 a year for distribution. The latter is extremely good value for money – it enables worldwide distribution which would otherwise cost us hours of work and much higher fees.  However, some of the backlist isn’t covering that cost and soon we’ll go through the process of flipping the backlist to Amazon KDP. We can still supply discounted author copies. There are no set up or distribution fees with KDP and we can get a proof copy at cost price.  

Ingrams offer more choice in sizes and covering though Amazon KDP are gradually increasing their range. There is a perception that Ingrams offers better quality but there is also a rumour that in fact Amazon use Lightning Source for their printing.

Ingrams’ books can be ordered by any bookshop.  Amazon KDP cannot except in the US. Amazon KDP is offering enhanced distribution but it is much more expensive than Ingrams.

Another author a while back who was thinking of self-publishing asked whether it was better to go exclusively with Amazon for e-books or to go wider. The arguments for and against each system are pretty even. We find it simpler to operate just with Amazon.

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