MLitt Publishing Studies students visit BookSource distributors in Glasgow

October 9th, 2013 | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on MLitt Publishing Studies students visit BookSource distributors in Glasgow
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You walk into a bookshop (if you still do that sort of thing), you pick up a book that looks interesting; with a bounce in your step, you take it to the till, you buy it; you take it home and disappear into it for a few hours. A delightful experience — but do you ever wonder about the journey that book has taken to get to you?

Before it gets to the bookshop it goes through a distributor, a step most readers will not be familiar with. The postgraduate students on the current MLitt Publishing Studies programme recently visited BookSource in Glasgow to learn more about the distribution process, to visit the warehouse and find out how this book distributor is coping in our troubled industry.

BookSource, one of the UK’s foremost book distributors for independent publishers, has existed since 1995 and thrived since then — up until the digital revolution and Amazon, that is.  These last two factors mean that the distribution step is no longer as important as it used to be, and in the future might even be obsolete.

The staff at BookSource are well aware of the dangers facing their business. Managing information is key to their survival: they must be on top of the latest innovations at all times and re-imagine their business strategy in order to remain a fierce competitor on the market. Tapping into the digital book distribution market is a big part of their new business plan. Nevertheless, they are aware of the limitations: ‘I think it will be a sad, sad day when we start making children’s e-books,’ says Davinder Bedi, director, managing director at BookSource.


Davinder believes that Scottish Independence is another threat looming on the horizon. With borders possibly closing off a huge market for BookSource, their business may not survive at all. Publishers like being physically close their books—if Scotland becomes a country on its own, who is to say that British publishers will want to do business outside of their country? Davinder is pessimistic: he doesn’t think the Scottish market is big enough to survive on its own.

Where will BookSource stand in five years’ time — will it even stand at all? Will the warehouse close down or will it be unrecognisable, totally adapted to a wholly changed industry? One thing is for sure: BookSource is determined to try and re-invent themselves before throwing in the towel. The publishing industry must take example from BookSource: we must be perceptive, inventive, and most of all ruthless visionaries to thrive in the digital age.