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Sales Channels


National Retail Accounts

The large retail accounts—Barnes & Noble, Amazon—are intensively serviced by in-house IPG staff. These experienced salespeople are well prepared. In the yearly "trading partner" reviews conducted by these national accounts, IPG always receives a rating of "excellent."

National Wholesalers

The national wholesalers, Ingram and Baker & Taylor, are also serviced by IPG’s in-house staff. As with the national retail accounts, selling the national wholesale accounts requires many on-site visits, consistent contact, and very extensive preparation.

IPG subscribes to both Ingram’s and Baker & Taylor’s sales and stocking data and is able to analyze this data to anticipate demand and to ensure that sufficient stock is on hand from IPG’s client publishers.

Since IPG ships several truckloads of books to these customers every week, “just in time” shipments keep them well-stocked without running the risk of overstocking them and suffering heavy returns. This is one of the reasons why IPG’s returns have averaged less than 20 percent for many years, the lowest rate of returns of any distributor.

Mass Merchandisers

Customers such as Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Target, Toys R Us, BJ’s Wholesale, Costco, airport stores, Meijer, and the grocery store chains are sold through ID wholesale suppliers such as Readerlink Distribution Services, Anderson Merchandisers, BTMS, American West, and TNG. IPG account managers supply the ID channel with a focused list of titles, which in turn is vetted by ID channel product managers and presented directly to store buyers.

IPG has an in-house team to pursue opportunities in this channel. The IPG team also develops, in cooperation with IPG’s client publishers, special products for mass merchant retailers such as bindups (a number of related titles bound up together and offered at a promotional price), boxed sets, and books sold along with attached non-book products.

Independent Booksellers

Independent book retailers are sold to by IPG’s 38 U.S. and Canadian commission sales reps, one inside sales representative, and they are managed by IPG’s Trade Sales Manager. These reps are the premier commission reps in their countries. They have strong relationships, built over many years, with the booksellers on whom they call, and their recommendations as to appropriate titles and quantities are given careful consideration.

The IPG sales department is in frequent contact with the reps on the road as well as with the central offices maintained by each rep group to foster and facilitate sales.

The sales department generates sales to independent bookstores by:

  • Coordinating publishers' publicity efforts with the sales reps and their accounts
  • Developing sales promotions and sales strategy to generate direct sales to independent bookstores
  • Compiling and sending e-mail notifications of national and regional publicity hits for the reps
  • Confirming author events with sales reps and ensuring that books are ordered for signings
  • Providing sales materials to each rep to adequately sell in title[s] whether a galley, a sample chapter, a finished book, or a tip sheet—to supplement the catalog copy
  • Advising publishers on book-packaging, including cover designs, pricing, and titles
  •  Working with publishers to present at biannual sales conference
  • Putting together targeted bookstore lists for publishers trying to organize book launches or other special events
  • Advising publishers on co-op opportunities

 

Special Sales

In addition to its comprehensive approach to the book trade, IPG also operates a five-person in-house department to sell to accounts outside the regular book trade. Sales to these customers represent approximately 15 percent of IPG’s total sales and they are especially important to the IPG publishers because the returns are negligible and many titles sell well for years after they have run their course in the trade.

IPG actively sells to more than 1,200 museum stores—fine arts museums, history museums, science museums, planetariums, and more. While most museum stores do not carry as many titles as a trade bookstore, the right book matched to the right store will lead to substantial long-term sales.

As almost every special interest title has a compatible special interest market outside of the book trade, it is important to prospect for these markets and to present appropriate titles to them.  IPG has the capacity to create, almost instantly, full-color custom catalogs that contain only titles of interest to specialty buyers.

The Gift Market

As part of its special sales efforts, IPG hired its first gift market sales representatives in 2006 and this has become a fast-growing part of our business. IPG currently has over 100 gift market sales reps in the field, participates in more than eight regional gift shows, including major shows in Atlanta and New York, and produces a separate gift book catalog each season to support sales in this market. IPG has space in seven showrooms in gift marts across the United States.

Schools, School Libraries, and School Supply Stores

IPG works intensively with approximately 300 education accounts and sends hundreds of personalized catalogs and samples to customers who require them. IPG attends Ed Expo, the largest national school supply trade association meeting, and the Educational Book and Media Association meeting, during which the IPG education specialist builds new and fosters current relationships with educational wholesalers from around the country.

Success with the education accounts requires a highly disciplined approach. The buyers are experts in their fields and will not wade through long catalogs hoping to find a title or two that is relevant to their interests. IPG's experienced education rep presents to these buyers only titles that they will want to see.

The Professional and Academic Market

 IPG sends specialized subject catalogs and makes numerous pitches through electronic media to college and university professors to secure course adoptions, works closely with academic, professional, and business libraries, and approaches professional and academic associations and groups.

Many titles represented by IPG, originally published with only the traditional book market in mind, are now also adopted for college and university courses and bought by research libraries. This added distribution channel has meant increased sales for trade titles, and it also gives IPG publishers the freedom to consider titles that might have seemed too academic for the trade or too "tradey" for the academic market—a new and very interesting niche.

The Spanish Language Market

Sales are increasing exponentially in this emerging market. Most of the IPG-distributed publishers who make use of this channel are located in Spain or South America and publish only in Spanish, but other IPG publishers who publish primarily in English have found that Spanish-language editions of their books can sell well.

IPG prints a separate Spanish Language catalog and is one of the largest distributors of Spanish Language titles in North America. The market for these titles is very robust, and IPG works closely with the Spanish Language specialists through various sales channels.

Canada

IPG sells directly to the Canadian market. Orders are generated by sales reps commissioned by IPG—the Canadian Manda Group—and orders are filled by the IPG distribution center. Billing to Canadian accounts is in Canadian dollars. Doing this business directly means that IPG-distributed titles are priced to the Canadian market and are therefore competitive.

IPG client publishers achieve efficiencies and cost savings by dealing with one North American distributor rather than splitting their stock between two warehouses and having to deal with two separate sales offices.

International Sales

One of IPG’s missions is to help our client publishers reach new customers, wherever these potential customers may be in the world. Through IPG’s foreign sales and distribution relationships, our client publishers can elect to have their titles represented for sale throughout much of the book world. In the illustration above, IPG’s international representation is signified by the green area. IPG’s international sales growth has been consistent over the last three years, with many of our client publishers averaging a double-digit increase in international sales.

Our largest partner is Gazelle Book Services. Gazelle is based in the United Kingdom and covers the UK and continental Europe. We have other international partners in key English-speaking territories such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Philippines, Central and South America, and other parts of Asia. We have also added a new partner in China now that the government has started funding acquisition of English tiles for their provincial libraries.

Our international partners have extensive experience in the book trade in their respective markets. We rely on them to set the standards for success, including price points. Discounts offered to our partners are slightly larger due to the high cost of shipping, but the results demonstrate that we have strong partners who can sell countless books.

Libraries

IPG recognizes the importance of the library market in making titles successful. The vast majority of public and school libraries order  through national wholesalers that provide a single source for the majority of book product produced each year. IPG uses a variety of marketing methods, both direct-to-library and to wholesalers, to bring attention to titles from our publisher clients.

IPG sends its catalogs each season to collection development and acquisitions librarians at the 8,000 public libraries that have the largest book-buying budgets. IPG works directly with collection development and continuations managers at  major public and school library wholesalers to ensure that titles are selected for library collections and to fill standing orders. When titles receive reviews or garner national publicity, IPG works directly with book buyers at these wholesalers to make sure they are well-stocked in anticipation of library demand.

IPG also advises its client publishers on how to get reviews in BooklistLibrary JournalSchool Library JournalKirkus, and Publishers Weekly. Publishers distributed through IPG are much more likely to have their titles reviewed in these publications than those who do not have a first-rate distributor. IPG's sales to the library market are coordinated by Jeff Palicki.

Direct-to-Consumer Sales

Many IPG publishers make use of IPG’s fulfillment services to take care of orders generated by their own advertising efforts or websites. IPG can process all major credit cards and its computer system keeps track of the books sold and captures the customer information for each order. Publishers can link directly into IPG’s online shopping cart, and can provide this feature to their authors and specialty accounts to help maximize revenue for sales generated by their marketing efforts.

Also, most IPG publishers take advantage of IPG’s fulfillment service (at a much-reduced rate) to ship orders they have generated themselves to corporations, groups, or other nonbook customers not sold by IPG. This means that many IPG client publishers do not need to operate their own warehousing facilities.

Publishers who work through a distributor often complain that they lose touch with their marketplace and that they cannot get straight answers to their questions from the distributor. IPG is intensely aware of this very real problem and overcomes it by providing a wealth of market information to its client publishers.