One of the first things you’re told when you arrive at Booksource by Dav, managing director, is that the distribution end of the publishing chain may not be the sexy end of the scale, where you craft the content and look of a product, but the most important. You could have the most amazing product in the world, but it’s worth nothing if it can’t reach the consumer.
It almost comes off a book lovers dream to wander in a building that houses 3.42 million books at present, but they’re mere units when you view it from a business perspective. This has almost halved in the last few years from 7.6 million; it isn’t a drop in business but indicative of the industry changes. Publishers don’t house as much stock but Print On Demand, meaning that books can still fly of the shelves sales-wise, but not be sitting around waiting. It limits the risk of overprinting to quite so extreme proportions.
Booksource is different in a way because it doesn’t shy away from self-publishers or independent publishers; in fact, it seems to thrive off of them. If they can sell, then they have a place. It’s a key part of their formation, as they’ve grown from 8 publishers to just under 70 using their services – which go far beyond merely sending out your books. As one story featuring a football legend proved – you could go out and sell your books yourself, but you need a company like them to both shift their books in bulk and get them into major stores like Waterstones, with their responsibilities constantly evolving to offer the best service possible.
An informative day that gave a broad insight into a side of publishing we’d yet to see. Working in line with Publishing Scotland, their ethos is ‘profit with perspective’, which seems a relatively different idea, but ultimately their aim is to simply help publishers do business. So, all in all, an interesting afternoon well spent! And it solved the dilemma of what book to buy next, seeing as the one book I regretted not picking up at Edinburgh Book Festival was unavoidable today.