The publishing industry’s retail distribution network is rigid and stable. Established chain members move commodity items (books) systematically toward a common end. Each level (publisher, distributor, wholesaler, retailer) is mutually exclusive yet dependent on each other. The value of the product is dispersed and not controlled by the publisher. While this ingrained system is appealing to some, it leads to a conservative, uncreative structure lacking in energy. Conversely, the B2B marketplace is dynamic and growing at a 10% annual rate. Innovative and strategic publishers have the opportunity to change this competitive landscape, bypass an inflexible chain, and seize and control value. Here are the Top Ten Reasons to Control Value in a Distribution Network.
- The only true measure of value resides at the consumer level, the people who use the content of a book for their unique purposes.
- Value creation resides among publishers, through content and promotion. All levels in between serve only to deliver the content to the consumer. The function (and cost) of the middlemen is replaceable.
- Value is defined as quality (of content and form) and the publisher is held responsible for ultimate quality, whether perceived or real.
- Currently, publishers fill the role of a “supplier,” replaceable by other suppliers at a moment’s notice.
- You become irreplaceable (and by definition more profitable) by shifting value from the middlemen to you, the publisher.
- Change your focus from where the value is (delivery), to where it is migrating (purchase). Gain control (and profits) by defining, producing and delivering value to the buyer.
- Customers’ needs are not changing - they are different by segment. Your awareness of different needs is changing when you understand and deliver unique value in different segments.
- Increase your profits bypassing the current network and selling directly to different buyers in non-bookstore (special-sales) markets. You in effect become the distributor, and deliver the final value (in the form of a product) to the buyers.
- Look outside the bookstore segment for growth. A smaller share of a fast-growing niche may be worth more than a stable or increasing share in a slower-growing (or declining) one.
- As you control more of the total chain – creation, delivery and guardian of quality and value – you become a profitable, recognized, sought after leader in each niche in which you participate.
In summary, success in the business of publishing is driven by your ability to create and control the perception and delivery of quality and value to a buyer who understands and needs it. Make yourself irreplaceable to niche, B2B buyers by becoming the complete value chain.
Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS – www.bookapss.org– formerly SPAN). He is also the author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books. Brian offers commission-based sales of books to buyers in non-bookstore markets. Contact Brian at P. O. Box 715, Avon, CT 06001-0715; (860) 675-1344; firstname.lastname@example.org or www.premiumbookcompany.com twitter.com/bookmarketing