Distribution issues

Hi All,

 

I am going around in circles so would like som advice. I have my book with ISBN listed on various sites, Amazon, Bertrams, Gardners, etc. Global distribution, etc. 

 

I have a local bookshop that would like to order copies. I contacted Lulu who said distributor was Bertrams. So I gave the bookshop Bertrams details. They went to make an order only to be told by Bertrams they didn't deal with Lulu and the distributor for my book was actually Gardners.

 

Ok, so off I go to contact Gardners.  Now they came back and said they are listed as the distributors but they are not. This is exactly what they said:

 

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We can see that this title is listed on Nielsen but the record has Gardners set up as your distributor. This is incorrect so you’ll need to get this changed to yourself please. If you list Gardners as your distributor any orders will go into a black hole as we can’t order from ourselves! Basically Lulu are the printers and you are the publisher so you need to get yourself listed on Nielsen as the distributor so any orders will then come to you. This will then update the availability status to show it as available.

---

 

So I am at a total loss. My understanding was I went for global distribution and that was it, retailers could purchase from Bertrams or Gardners. I am still awaiting feedback from Lulu.

 

Can someone please explain to me what on earth is going on? What do I need to allow retailers to purchase my book? Do I need to put myself as the distributor? How do I do that? Who then has to process the orders? My understanding was this was all done by Lulu? Got to say I am not impressed at the moment!

 

Regards,

Nick

Comments

  • Here in the U.S. bookstores can buy from Ingrams. You could buy a few from your account which would be at cost and sell to the bookstores at whatever deal you'd like. Not sure if that is profitable or not but it's an option.

  • Hi,

     

    Thanks for the reply.

     

    Gardners and Bertrams are the UK equivalent to Ingrams so theory is bookshops here can buy from them the same as they do from Ingrams in the US.

     

    I did buy 40 to do just that as well as sell at my launch event.  However here in the UK red tape rules! I suggested I could sell them to the bookshop direct, however all the bookshops I have spoke to have said no as I am not an authorised distributor for them. Some have said no I cannot go through that process others have a long winded way to do it. I am still working on it.

     

    My understanding was they, bookshops, could just go to a distributor (Bertrams, Gardners, Ingrams, etc.) and order via them with my book.  I am at a total loss as to why they cannot.  I would like to hear from Lulu as to why they cannot.

     

    Thanks,

    Nick

  • I thought that Ingrams operates in 130 countries and it's Ingrams who Lulu use. I have not heard of the other two. I live in the UK.

     

    Is it your own ISBN or a Lulu one?

  • Why don't you place the order yourself and make Lulu send the parcel to your bookshop by entering its address and telephone number instead of yours in the delivery form? You'll pay the order, and you'll ask the shopkeeper to refund you with the sales  You'll have to take back the unsold copies yourself. Such is the usual procedure for self-published authors. Only a few bookshops accept.

  • On the other hand, I noticed some smart alec offers a few of my titles on e-Bay  or Amazon as rare second-hand ones for about twice their regular  price. They don't own any. They just order a copy when one is ordered.  Smiley LOL

  • Kevin, thanks for the reply. It is a Lulu ISBN, thought would be less hassle that way. 

     

    When end I spoke to Lulu they told me Ingrams was US and Bertram's for UK. I have used Bertram's with other publications. Either way I don't mind who the distributor is but every distributor I speak to tells me they can't get the book or they don't work with Lulu.

  • Hi potetjp,

     

    i did did offer to do just that, I have copies here I could deliver by hand myself, but as explained earlier, I am not an authorised supplier and neither are Lulu. The bookshop will only deal with suppliers approved by head office. I am awaiting details of how to become registered supplier if they will allow it.

     

    but the whole point in going with Lulu is that Lulu took care of it all via their distribution channels.

     

    thanks,

    nick


  • nickbits a écrit :

    i did did offer to do just that, I have copies here I could deliver by hand myself, but as explained earlier, I am not an authorised supplier and neither are Lulu.

    __________________

     

    indeed. Sorry.

    I noticed that in "My Revenue", outside Lulu,  my books are sold either through Amazon or by Ingram. So, at least these two channels work. In the UK, the Book Depository, too, has some of my titles. In France, only Amazon sells my books. No local bookshop or even the big multimedia FNAC carry them for the same reason as yours. To be accepted by the national distributor, I'd have to register as a mini-company with all the redtape involved. I am not going to bother with that.

     

     

  • Hi,

     

    No need to be sorry.

     

    I got Amazon selling them in US & UK. What I couldn't understand was every distributor I have looked at lists my book but none so far will supply them. And still no reply from Lulu support.


  • nickbits a écrit :

     What I couldn't understand was every distributor I have looked at lists my book but none so far will supply them. And still no reply from Lulu support.


    I agree with you. To a certain extent it's a breach of contract, somehow like shops that display the Amex blazon, but refuse the Amex card.

  • Hi,

     

    glad im not the only one thinking that. Will give an update if I ever get a reply from Lulu.

     

    nick


  • nickbits a écrit :

    Hi,

     

    glad im not the only one thinking that. Will give an update if I ever get a reply from Lulu.

     

    nick


    Don't forget Lulu is closed until next week because of Thanksgiving.

  • Hi,

     

    No not forgot that.  Had one support issue solved in a matter of hours but others I have issues. I sent requests for distribution help twice, once 2 months ago, one one month ago and then again this issue last week. No reply to a single one of them.

     

    I was also under the impression, probably mistaken, that Lulu had offices outside the US.

     

     

    Had the following comment from one distributor:

     

    You need to arrange with Nielsen that any orders come to you, you then get the books printed and sent to whoever has ordered them. At the moment if we sent an order via Nielsen it would go nowhere as we cannot order from ourselves.

     

    My understanding was that I didn't need to do any of that, that Lulu would sort all the orders.


  • nickbits a écrit :

     

    Had the following comment from one distributor:

     

    You need to arrange with Nielsen that any orders come to you, you then get the books printed and sent to whoever has ordered them. At the moment if we sent an order via Nielsen it would go nowhere as we cannot order from ourselves.


    It's pretty obvious some big chain stores can order your books for their customers while others are not allowed to. As it is beyond our ken, and as we can do nothing about it, the best is to leave the distribution problem to Lulu, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, etc.

    Nielsen? Smiley Surprised  Nielsen is not a distributor. It is not a commercial outlet whether electronic or brick-and-mortar so they can't place orders. Conversely, if you create a company of your own, they can help you determine what products are the most appropriate for your customers.

  • Hi potetjp,

     

    Totally agree, understand, etc. what you are saying, thus my frustration with Lulu.Know exactly what Nielsen are, who the others are, etc. hence sure you can understand my frustration with the distributors.  Anyway, will see if I get a reply on Monday from them. Just wish they had some other way to contact them, a phone number or live help.

     

    Nick

  • Kevin, thanks for the reply. It is a Lulu ISBN, thought would be less hassle that way. 

     

    When end I spoke to Lulu they told me Ingrams was US and Bertram's for UK. I have used Bertram's with other publications. Either way I don't mind who the distributor is but every distributor I speak to tells me they can't get the book or they don't work with Lulu.

     

    There are many places that will have nothing to do with self-published books at all, or even just POD books because there's no sale or return offered, and POD books are expensive anyway.

  • Thanks for that. I am just amazed at this, if I knew it was going to be this much of a hassel I would not have used Lulu. I see several Lulu books though available via Waterstones for example and yet I am having major issues. And still nothing back from Lulu themselves.

  • That is the bottom line of it in my opinion.  There's still a dislike of self-published books, and the Lulu owned ISBNs immediately mark them as such (and I suspect Lulu buy them en-block from Ingram's?) On Amazon it lists Lulu as the publisher even though it's ourselves who publish our books, (even though in the Lulu Wizard there's a box to type name of publisher in, it does not transfer to the details on other sites.)

    Then there's no Sale or Return.

    Then POD books being expensive to make. (In my local supermarket one can buy the latest large hardbacked books for just £9 so you can bet they are paying no more than £3 for them.)

    There's also the problem of some huge book shop highstreet chains only getting books from their own distributors, and in some cases that's themselves. And you are right that often to get listed with them you need to be a registered Ltd., publishing house, with a VAT (Sales Tax) number etc., etc., and offering that Sale or Return.

     

    One strange thing is that I am listed on the websites of such bookshops, but the same applies to get them stocked in their bricks and mortar shops. I assume it's because to stock them in those, they have to actually buy some.

     

  •  I see several Lulu books though available via Waterstones for example and yet I am having major issues. And still nothing back from Lulu themselves.

     

    I forget how long I have been using Lulu for, far longer than the date under my forum name! But I have noticed that eventually, due to no action from me, my books end up listed all over the place on many many sites. It's sort of a trickle effect. But only on sites, not in 'real' shops.

  • Hi Kevin,

     

    Thank you for the information, much appreciated.

     

    Nick

  • Hello Nick

    I also responded to your Tweets, but 140 characters do not allow for a complete answer.

     

    Our distribution network will get your book onto most online bookstores. Getting them into brick and mortar stores, however, is a completely different beast.

     

    Just because a book is available on Bertrams for a shop to order it, does not mean they will stock it on their shelves. They can, however, special order for any customes who come into the shop and perhaps if enough people request the special order, the shop will choose to stock it.  But, it's not likely since most large retailers demand at least a 50% discount and the ability to return any unsold copies. Since Lulu is a print on demand company, we have no inventory and therefore no facilities to accept and store returns.

     

    Hence the problem of getting books onto your local bookstore's shelves. Of course the local bookshop manager probably make and exception if he wants, but he may be already stocked for Christmas since those orders were placed months ago.

     

    I know this is not the answer you want to hear, but I hope it helps to clarify the situation.

  • Frankly, I couldn't care less for this distribution issue. Many of the books I have come from university presses, and are not avaiable from regular bookstores. I order them either directly or through Amazon.  Before the Internet, I just mailed an order and sent a postal order. I also remember the time when books in English published in Tokyo by Tuttle could only be obtained through their representative in Switzerland because no European bookshop could sell them! 

  • Thanks, potetjp very helpful!

  • Hi Glenn,

     

    Think you have missed the point, I have a bookshop who are desperate to order it, would order a large quantity and I believe they are not too worried about sale/return, local history books tend to sell well in their shop.  I am not an authorised distributor for them but Bertrams and Gardners are.  Neither though say they can get the items from you for the shop.  So I am back to the original question, where do Brick and Mortar Bookshops order books from?  (Ignoring myself and assuming they need distributor like above)

     

    Nick

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