How does the publisher sell his line to the book trade?
In book publishing this is often the hardest question of all to answer. Getting access to bookstores is not easy and it is a prime task any publisher needs to address.
There are several ways to establish sales representation in bookstores. The choice depends on the publisher’s particular circumstances and sales objectives in relation to his overall program.
Very small publishers with only one or two titles to sell or with highly specialized lists who do not plan a publishing program of several (12 or more) new titles per year are best advised to rely on direct mail. They can use catalogs and brochures, telemarketing, personal selling efforts, publisher-distributors, or a network of book wholesalers to supply bookstores with their publications. Booksellers are intent on reducing the number of vendors they deal with and the paperwork involved. They much prefer to use central wholesaler sources for self-publishers and other small manufacturers, unless the product is unavailable through wholesalers, has a large local or regional market, or is very salable and offered on terms that are unusual (50%, Free Freight, Returnable, etc.). Seldom can an independent rep succeed in convincing booksellers to deal directly with very small publishers. Nor can he afford to be a missionary generating business for wholesalers. NAIPR publishes a brochure, Marketing Advice for the Very Small or Self-Publisher, which may be helpful to publishers in this category.
Very large publishers will find it cost-effective to employ commission reps to cover secondary or special accounts and to explore new markets as a supplement to the core activities of the house sales force.
Small and medium-sized publishers (12 titles or more a year in a continuing publishing program), and some large publishers as well, often choose to establish sales representation in bookstores through a network of independent sales representatives. Experience has demonstrated that personal sales representation for books, cassettes, calendars, cards, toys, games, puzzles, and other bookstore-oriented sidelines is the most effective way to achieve market share.