What Does Full Distribution Mean?
Without an effective international book distribution network in place, a book is just a pile of scrap paper. With the recent advances in printing methods, getting a book into print has never been easier. Even local high street print shops are able to produce passable paperbacks at quite reasonable rates these days. The big problem now is how to get a book into the hands of readers. It’s all very well having a pile of beautifully produced books in your spare bedroom but if nobody comes to your house to buy them they are never going to be read.
With a traditional publisher, the system is easy, they have built up over the years a reliable network which allows worldwide, rapid distribution. However, for a small publisher or independent author, life is not quite so easy. There are a number of companies which do offer distribution services to self-published authors but it is important to carefully weigh up all the costs involved. What is the minimum number of books they require you to place with them? Often distributors will require a very large number of books which means a lot of money tied up for an author. What are their charges? Do they handle bookshop returns?
Publishing with somebody like Amazon can give access to Amazon’s stores but if one wants to be able to distribute to bookshops in different countries, Amazon charges quite high fees via a dramatic drop in royalties.
The eBook is, of course, another distribution issue. Once more, Amazon makes it easy for authors to put a self-published book into their Kindle system but the Kindle is not the only eReader out there. Kobo are fast growing and look like closing the gap on Amazon before long and there is a huge increase in the number of people reading books on iPads or Android devices. Each of these requires different versions of the book and have completely different distribution networks behind them.
At Mirador, we have an effective worldwide distribution system for both paperbacks and eBooks which means that any bookshop in the world is able to order any of our books. Of course, that doesn’t mean they will stock them, that’s a whole different area.