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Indie Publishers Take Advantage of Distribution Warehousing

Friday, December 5th, 2014

In the book-publishing world, distribution is most often the least talked about element of the industry. And yet despite its invisible, behind-the-scenes nature, it is the lifeblood of publishing. Getting books from publisher to retailer to customer requires a surprising amount of logistical strategy, and distribution plays a key role.

Publishers big and small need a good warehouse to store the various quantities of titles they offer and must have a good distribution system in place to carry out effective shipping. While some large publishers have their own warehouses and the staff to handle picking, packing, shipping and invoicing, smaller independent publishers often do not have the storage space or manpower to move their products efficiently. The answer for indie publishers is to take advantage of third party distribution warehousing.

Facilities called public warehouses are where businesses that sell merchandise can store their products. Independent publishers can utilize these facilities to store their inventory. They can also take their supply chain efficiency a step further and seek out warehouse facilities that also offer distribution solutions, such as the following services:

  • Parcel delivery
  • Order selection and pick-and-pack services
  • RF and bar-coding
  • Computerized inventory control, stock location
  • Online inventory tracking
  • Dedicated customer service representative
  • Bonded and FTZ warehouses (depending on location)
  • Import/export services
  • Cross-docking and transloading services

The last three services are important for publishers who ship across the United States or other countries.

According to a Nielsen Market Research survey, ebooks made up only 23 percent of all books sold in the first half of 2014. For publishers, that means there is still a market for print books. Many publishing industry insiders will agree that print is here to stay, at least for a little while longer. With a demand for print books still high, publishers need a place to store and ship these titles.

With the growing popularity of self-publishing putting more power into the hands of authors, independent publishers are poised to help these emerging authors put their work in front of readers. Distribution will be the key to successful publishing, but indie publishers don’t go into business to have a warehouse of their own to run. Removing distribution from the list of things they need to handle frees them up to get back to the core of their business.

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