Q: What is the difference between a book wholesaler and distributor?
A: In simplistic terms: A wholesaler carries an inventory of books, which it ships to stores and libraries as orders are placed. Publishers send their books to a wholesaler, so they don’t have to deal with fulfillment. The wholesaler gets a percentage of the book’s retail price. It does not promote books; that’s up to the author and publisher.
A distributor promotes and sells books to retailers and libraries. It doesn’t handle fulfillment. A distributor has a sales force that meets with buyers to garner sales. (A catalog also serves this purpose.) Distributors purchase books directly from publishers at a steep discount — sometimes as much as 65-70 percent of the retail price. Retailers and libraries also receive a discount. Some distributors have their own wholesale operations.
Distributors generally don’t accept books from publishers who publish fewer than 10 titles a year or whose sales are less than $25,000.
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