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distribution

Visit to Booksource 2015

October 7th, 2015 by Marian Robb | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visit to Booksource 2015
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On Thursday 1 October the publishing students of Stirling University visited Booksource: a distribution company based in Glasgow. We were welcomed by Louise Morris, the Customer Service Director and Jim O’Donnell, Operations Director and were then separated into two groups. (The MLitt cohort is quite large this year!) One group was taken on a fascinating tour of the warehouse by Jim and the other was given an informative presentation about the company by Louise.

While touring the impressive 44,000 square feet warehouse, Jim told us how Booksource was founded by Publishing Scotland and is still 90% owned by them. The company has approximately eighty client publishers, most of whom are small to medium sized and information about them and what they publish can be found on the Booksource website (http://www.booksource.net/our-clients ). The company provides storage and distribution for their clients and client-customer transactions are processed through their information management system.

As Jim took us down the aisles, with books stacked from floor to ceiling he explained how books are re-stocked early each morning and how a team then picks the books around 9am for the orders that are to be fulfilled that day. He also explained how they choose the most cost effective packaging for the publisher, with smaller orders packed in boxes or larger ones in pallets. The books are kept in the correct environmental conditions which means no heating in the warehouse. Perfect for the books but sometimes very cold for the Booksource team during the Scottish winters!

Jim then showed us the returns sections of the Booksource warehouse and we publishing students were faced with the reality of misjudging the print run or of typo errors missed during the proofreading stage. I think quite a few of us would have liked to save the books from becoming pulped fiction!

Louise gave us some more background to the company during the presentation and explained how important their service is to both publishers and their customers. Most small publishers do not have the resources to be dealing with their own distribution and equally, booksellers would have to order from lots of different publishers which wouldn’t be cost effective for anyone. Booksource means that the publisher-customer transactions can be controlled in one place, allowing publishers to concentrate fully on the publishing process.

She told us about the range of publications they deal with: fiction, outdoor, Scottish themed, children’s books and cookery to name just a few. Booksource also stores and distributes CDs and DVDs for independent music companies and provides an eBook service to publishers. So not just print publications!

Louise also explained how Booksource is continually adapting to the changes in the publishing industry and giving publishers the services they require. They will soon be launching a new online shop (www.mybooksource.com ) where each publisher will have their own dedicated page. It will be a great asset to small publishers who perhaps don’t have the time or resources to maintain their own online shop.

It was a really interesting and enjoyable afternoon seeing this aspect of the book publishing world, and Louise and Jim’s time spent with us was much appreciated, especially as they had to do the tour and presentation twice! We learned a lot and can really see how the services that Booksource provides play a pivotal role in the publishing process. Many thanks to the Booksource team for inviting us all to visit.

Booksource: Not the sexy side of publishing, but the most important

October 10th, 2014 by Heather Margaret McDaid | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Booksource: Not the sexy side of publishing, but the most important
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Heather McDaid reports on a class trip to book distributor Booksource:

One of the first things you’re told when you arrive at Booksource by Davinder Bedi, 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 it is 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.

WP_20140924_008It almost comes out of a book lover’s dream to wander in a building that houses 3.42 million books, 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 industry changes. Publishers don’t house as much stock now Print On Demand exists, meaning that books can still fly of the shelves sales-wise, but not be sitting around waiting in a warehouse. 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 from 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 books. As one story featuring a football legend proved – you could go out and sell your books yourself, but you need a company like Booksource 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, Booksource’s 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!