The agreement that I have with my Distributor Xavier Nagel Agencies is that they will take care of all the main stream bookstore outlets and I will approach everyone else that would be interested in stocking a coffee table book like Down The Line
Bookstores are an obvious choice but as crucial as it is stocking titles there, alternative outlets are needed where a more concentrated target market can be reached and where the competition is less rife.
Down The Line is the only photographic coffee table book about the train line that runs between Cape Town and Simonstown making it very unique. This train carries over 3.5 million commuters per month and stops at 28 stations along its journey. Some of theses stations are in very high density tourist areas – for both local and international tourists- most of whom want to know what everyday life in South Africa is all about. But not all of them enjoy browsing bookstores. Besides the mainstream and independent bookstores that are dotted along the line there are also art galleries, gift shops, interior boutiques and coffee shops – all potential outlets for a localised coffee table book.
Dealing directly with outlets has its pros and cons.Time needs to be allocated to make contact , whether it’s via telephone, email or cold- calling. As all dealings are done directly with the owner/manager positive relationships can be formed. There are also no commissions that need to be paid to a distributor. Some alternative outlets will only take consignment stock so an accurate admin structure needs to be put into place so that all books delivered and payment terms are recorded. Dealing directly also involves delivery of the books – whether personally or via courier.
To end off – a few weeks ago just after I was interviewed by a national newspaper, I received an email from Shelflife an online sneaker and streetware shop. They wanted to meet me and to view my book as they had a lot of international feet moving through their store with many requests for books about South Africa. So the moral of the whole story is – who really knows through where books should be sold, but the more options the better….
Having many outlets is one thing but publicising the book is a whole different matter – more on that next time….