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Wholesalers—who they are and how they differ from distributors

28 April 2013

From Self-Publishing Resources:

Although the terms “wholesaler” and “distributor” are frequently used interchangeably . . .  there is a difference. Wholesalers have no sales reps; they simply fill your book orders and actually buy your book outright. Distributors work on a consignment basis, paying you for sales ninety days after they have been made.

Baker & Taylor is the country’s oldest and largest library wholesaler. B&T has over the last several years dramatically increased its sales to bookstores, as well. Corporate headquarters is located in Charlotte, North Carolina, and there are branches around the country as well as in in the UK. The wholesaler’s file system lists more than a million titles, CDs, and DVDs.

To get on its database, B&T requires a $125 fee to establish new vendors, and it aggressively courts small publishers.

. . . .

Just as KFC’s success attracted Boston Market and other contenders, there are more large book wholesalers. Headquartered outside of Nashville, Tennessee, Ingram is another huge wholesaler. Its forte is fast delivery of popular books to bookstores. As of BookExpo America 2001, however, Ingram announced it is no longer dealing directly with publishers of less than ten titles.

Link to the rest at Self-Publishing Resources


4 Comments to “Wholesalers—who they are and how they differ from distributors”

  1. Thank you, PG! This is very informative. I had always thought B&T and Ingram’s to be distributors. I’m glad to have my error of thought corrected. I’m intrigued to see Ingram’s policy of not dealing directly with publishers of fewer than 10 titles. Is that new per year, do you suppose? Or might Wild Unicorn Books (my indie imprint) approach them directly once the title count (including backlist) crosses beyond ten? Ideas are percolating…:D

  2. There’s also McNaughton (now a part of Brodart, apparently), which lets libraries essentially “rent” books. They will ship you multiple copies of (e.g.) the latest NYT bestsellers, so you don’t have to either wait-list your patrons or get stuck with thirty copies of the book once its popularity wanes.

    I don’t know what they do with the returned books.

  3. I hated the McNaughton plan but mainly because a library I worked for some time ago generally just went ahead and bought the books at the end of the rental period instead of sending most back and also selected a lot of materials that should not have been selected in the first place. Handled right, especially in larger libraries, I think it works great. I don’t know if they still do this but believe they(Brodart/McNaughton) may sell then to the bookstore/bookstore chains that deal in used as well as new books. There was one or two years where I saw a lot of them show up at our local Hastings. If you were familiar with the plan you could tell at a glance because they had a green strip of paper with the McNaughton logo or name attached to the cover.

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