Cover Story: Quill's Will
Follow the Reader
Mettee is just as open to new distribution models, finding success in nontraditional channels, such as selling health and business books en masse to be handed out at corporate seminars and retreats. A team of sales reps keeps in close touch with bookstores and chains across the United States and Canada, and the company has enjoyed notable success in selling foreign rights to titles, having seen books translated into at least 16 languages (including, most recently, a second title in Vietnamese). Closer to home, Quill Driver has experimented with placing books in unusual venues such as car washes.
“One of the sales reps we have who calls on bookstores in the Southeast recently said to me, ‘You know, our customer hasn’t moved away. They are just buying someplace else, and we’ve got to find out where,’” he points out.
Mettee believes in following readers, whether the path leads to kiosks, big-box stores or handheld devices.
“E-books and digital delivery of all books, even the printed and bound copies, via machines like the Espresso Book Machine, are a part of publishing’s future,” he says. “We are currently moving all our titles into the Kindle format and are waiting until the superstructure for other digital delivery systems is in place. At that point, we will jump in with both feet.” On his blog, The Write Thought, he predicts the Kindle will become as popular as the iPod.
“Before terribly long,” he says, “Amazon.com will stop stocking many titles, opting to print each order on-demand. This will be embraced by the publishers since it means less inventory to warehouse and handle, lower freight costs, fewer returns, and, with fewer books pulped and less shipping, it will also have a positive effect on the environment.”