Book distributors are the middlemen between publishers and bookstores and other retail outlets, like shopping clubs and airport vendors. They can warehouse and sell new books purchased from publishers, or an assortment of overstocks and slightly damaged books. Distributors have an advantage, because they carry a number of titles from a number of different publishers, so booksellers can order from one source, rather than multiple sources. Here are the basics for becoming a book distributor:
1 Research your potential market, to find out what books sell in your area. Contact booksellers and other book vendors, and ask them for advice on what will sell, as they will know best. Distributors planning to sell nationally or internationally, should research several years of past sales figures.
2 Contact publishers and let them know you sre opening a book distribution business. Let them know what market niche you will be filling, and negotiate with them for prices which allow you to resell their books at a profit.
3 Ask publishers to send you their white sale lists: White sales include books that the publisher no longer wants to keep on hand and is wholesaling. White sales usually involve a bid process, with the highest bidder getting the largest number of books.
4 Find remainder houses, and negotiate prices: Remainders are leftover books that publishers have sold in lots, because they no longer intend to publish them. Remainder houses already sell books at deep discounts, so don’t expect to get the same deal you would directly from a publisher.
5 Buy hurts from publishers: Hurts are books that are slightly damaged, usually by having been in an open store, and returned. They are frequently marked in some way by the publisher, so that people will know the book has been wholesaled.
6 Purchase or rent warehouse space: Install sturdy shelving, and create a system for storage that allows books to be quickly pulled, and packed for shipping to stores. Make sure your warehouse has a loading dock, or large doors for deliveries.
7 Obtain supplies like shipping boxes and packing tape in bulk. Have adequate amounts of shipping materials, like packing peanuts, on hand, and train your employees in the right way to pack books.
8 Plan your distribution methods: Negotiate with trucking companies, the Postal Service, and parcel carriers, for their best prices.
9 Create a catalogue of the books you carry, and publish it online. Make hard copies to mail to stores, and plan on updating the catalogue at least quarterly. You may need to update it monthly, if your books sell quickly and you run out of stock on certain titles.
Do not carry books that won’t sell, just because you were able to get them at a good price.