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THE BIBLIO FILE is a podcast about "the book," and an inquiry into the wider world of book culture. Hosted by Nigel Beale it features wide ranging, long-form conversations with best practitioners inside the book trade and out - from writer to reader. Why listen? The hope is that it will help you to read, write, publish, edit, design, and collect better, and improve how you communicate serious, big, necessary, new, good ideas and stories...

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Jul 1, 2008

Distribution is a critical spoke in the publishing cycle, and yet it’s surprising the scant amount of thought many small publishers give to how their books will eventually be sold, and how much it will cost to get their titles into the stores. Most new titles issued by small/self publishers wont ever be stocked on the shelves of chain superstores, not even for a short tryout period. Only a tiny fraction of these titles are ever selected directly by discount merchandisers or supermarkets, despite these outlets accounting for a big percentage of overall book industry sales. Bookseller don’t have time to meet with hundreds of small publishers, hence the importance of the distributor. 

I talk here with Les Petriw, Managing Director & International Sales Director of National Book Network, ’second or third largest in North America,’ about why publishers should consider using distribution firms such as his. In-stock status at a national distributor is essential to selling books in any quantity through retail outlets, but it isn’t cheap. From what I’ve been able to learn, distributors working with small publishers typically require a discount of from 50% to 75% off the cover price. In other words, they pay the publisher between 25% and 50% of the cover price on books they actually sell. So picking the right company is important. Here, according to Les, is what you should look for: