Why Are Publishers Still Warehousing and Fulfilling Books?

In Discussion by Guest Contributor

Warehousing and fulfillment are costly endeavors for publishers.

Warehousing and fulfillment are costly endeavors for publishers.

Veteran publishing consultant Bruce Harris advises publishers to get out of warehousing and fulfillment and into their own branded bookstores.

By Lynn Rosen

Veteran publishing consultant Bruce Harris, profiled in today’s feature story, notes that the one thing that perplexes his is the question of why are publishers still handling any of their own fulfillment. “I don’t understand why publishing houses have warehouses anymore, and I don’t understand why they’re doing fulfillment,” Harris exclaims. “It’s totally wasteful to me. In terms of shipping books and collecting money, there are people who can do it a lot better than publishers. That’s money going into infrastructure that could be spent in much better ways.” A number of Harris’ self-published clients’ books are distributed by Ingram Publisher Services. He also wonders why publisher aren’t making greater use of POD, saying: “Why would you print 30,000 copies of the book when you have orders for 10,000? I don’t get it. It seems to me inefficient and kind of wedded to the past.”

As for how publishers might spend this money, were they to free themselves from distribution? “I do not understand why publishers are not opening bookstores,” he says. “Why doesn’t Penguin Random House open 400 bookstores? Imagine if you had 400 Penguin Random House bookstores. Customers could order what they want from any publisher but you could obviously display Penguin Random House books to full advantage”

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Guest Contributor

Guest contributors to Publishing Perspectives have diverse backgrounds in publishing, media and technology. They live across the globe and bring unique, first-hand experience to their writing.