For ambitious independent publishers, exports represent one of the biggest opportunities for growth. The IPG’s new Harbottle & Lewis Independent Publishing Report indicates that exports currently account for about 22% of members’ sales on average—an impressive figure, but one that has remained static from last year’s report. With access to global markets becoming ever easier, this is a great time to explore ways to reach them.
How can it be done? For independents in particular, it is often a challenge. Many small publishers have neither the time nor the resources to manage the complexities of international sales, so the first steps are to find a good network of international sales people who can navigate the marketplace and help fulfil consumer demand. A distributor with global reach that you can trust is another vital partner.
Publishers also need to identify which territories of the world to target. The Harbottle & Lewis Independent Publishing Report shows that the US remains the biggest export market for UK publishers, followed by Australia / New Zealand and Canada. But the most significant markets after that are mostly closer to home in European countries—though it remains to be seen what impact the Brexit will have on those channels. Asia and the Middle East are increasingly important too.
Small publishers in particular should use all the assets at their disposal to grow international sales—and the most important among those are often their authors. Videos, blogs and social media content generated by your authors, and interviews with relevant publications, can all help to grow author brands in overseas markets. For authors who are able to travel, events with booksellers can pay off in sales.
Baker & Taylor’s new Global Publishers Services
solution can help independent publishers reach the export markets. It allows publishers to plug in to our sales, marketing and logistics solutions, all tailored to specific needs, and get excellent representation and full service distribution through our global-scale network which supplies books and digital content from some 25,000 suppliers to more than 20,000 customers in 120 countries.
If you are interested in reaching the North American marketplace—US and Canada—Baker & Taylor’s US Merchandising team can help. If you currently work with a US distributor, we will work with you to ensure that your titles are well represented in our inventory and available to over 25,000 library and retail customers. If you do not currently have a US distribution agreement, we offer a range of sales, distribution and supply chain services through Bookmasters to assist you in your efforts to reach the US marketplace.
We can also help with speed to market—one of the most important factors in international sales, along with pricing and sell-through. Consumers are no longer inclined to wait long periods for their books to reach them, and publishers who cannot provide rapid fulfilment risk missing out on sales. Print on demand, local offset printing, efficient freight and access to the right wholesalers can all help speed up delivery through local retail and library markets around the world—especially the vital network of independent booksellers in the US. Publishers need to decide whether they want to manage different relationships in all these areas, or to use a one-stop shop like ours—though we also offer fulfilment services only, for publishers who wish to handle their own sales and marketing.
Independent publishers are smart, passionate people who are driven by a desire to delight and educate—to add value to the world. Books are not gadgets or widgets: they are doors on the world, and it’s our job to help open them.
Chitra Bopardikar is vice president and general manager at Baker & Taylor Global Publishers Services. Sally Neher is vice president and divisional merchandise director at Baker & Taylor, US. Pictured: Chitra Bopardikar speaking at the IPG's 2016 Autumn Conference.