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Is the Print Book Distribution Gap Closing?

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

Today’s feature story looks at the upcoming World E-reading Congress in London. The article notes that among the speakers will be agent Charlie Campell of the Ed Victor Agency and Bedford Square Books. He notes that one of the titles published by BSB — Louise Fennell’s Dead Rich, was picked up for sale by UK retail giant Tesco, “traditional publishers took notice, and Simon & Schuster approached the agency who then struck a conventional publishing deal.” What’s interesting about this statement is less that the agency was about to strike a conventional deal with a traditional publisher (bully for them!), but that they were able to forge a print distribution deal with Tesco in the first place.

The book was released as a paperback original and Tesco was given a four month exclusive on the book, which sells for a very competitively priced £2.99. She promoted the book on Tesco’s own blog and offered readers a competition to win a £495 Theo Fennell pendant (Fennell having been known as “jeweler to the stars”). A certain amount of pseudo-celebrity was at work here in assisting the agency in securing the deal, but it’s also further indication of the ability of well-connected individuals — and their support teams, be they agents, publishers or others — to secure their own distribution.

This closing of the distribution gap is, perhaps more than anything else, what must worry publishers most about the future. Certainly, some cynics will comment (incorrectly) that it doesn’t matter, since the future is “all about digital.” But dismissing the opportunity of getting your print book in front of tens of thousands (or perhaps millions) of retail shoppers through bookstores, big box stores or…well…who knows what’s next, sports stadium turnstiles?…would be foolhardy. Physical distribution remains a huge opportunity and that, like so much else, is truly opening up to the enterprising DIY-er.

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