US printer Thomson-Shore, a sponsor and exhibitor at the IPG’s Annual Spring Conference, shares some advice for optimising printing and increasing sales in the US
For many IPG members, the US will be the most significant overseas market of all in 2018. Print and digital sales here are worth around $28 billion (£20 billion) a year from some 2.6 billion units—making our market more than five times the size of the UK’s.
UK publishers have always had several things working in their favour in the US, including a huge and varied output of titles—much larger per capita than in the US—and the fact that their content is in the same language. The most recent available figures
show that UK publishers’ exports to north America rose by 19% in 2016—but there is room to grow still further in the US. Here are five ways to improve your publishing and sales.
1 Take advantage of the weak pound
Ten years ago you could get two dollars to the pound, but in the last couple of years it has fallen to between $1.20 and $1.40. This has made UK content much more attractive to the US market, and it should influence print buying strategies too. When a country’s currency is weak against the dollar, it may well be best for its publishers to choose lower volume digital print runs rather than larger offset runs.
2 Understand the markets within the market
It is important to remember that the US book industry is made up of many markets. There are no fewer than nine different regional booksellers associations, and buying habits vary enormously from state to state. It is important to understand the very different needs of, say, California and the southern states. Seeing the market up close at events like BookExpo can help.
3 Work locally
The US will usually need a separate marketing strategy to the UK, and cover design may need to be different too. Having books manufactured and warehoused in the US can be a huge advantage.
4 Appreciate print variations
The US also demands a different approach to printing. It is important to recognise the differences between manufacturing materials like end-sheets and board coverings, and to understand the metrics and terms of US printing—trim sizes are expressed in inches rather than millimetres, for instance. In the past nine months, Thomson-Shore has produced thousands of UK titles through simultaneous publication, and discovered many hidden efficiencies that can save UK publishers as much as 25% of costs.
5 Get known by independent booksellers
The US has more than 2,000 Independent bookshops, and Thomson-Shore’s British-American Book Awareness Initiative is a good way to increase your exposure to them. Our print and digital catalogues showcase books from some of the UK’s best publishers, and are taken to fairs, trade events and Thomson-Shore’s presentations. There is more about the Initiative here