Larry Bennett

Book Business: What are some of the key challenges you are facing today as you try to grow your distribution business?
Larry Bennett: The printed book business is shrinking (numbers from a variety of sources indicate that ebooks represent approximately 20 percent of the trade market). As it shrinks, there is growing pressure on publishers, authors, wholesalers, distributors, sales reps and retailers to maintain margins. In order to do this, we need to continuously improve in many areas, including operational efficiencies to minimize cost, effectiveness in the sell-in of our better titles, aggressive pursuit of non-traditional markets and expanded services.

Bookmasters, Inc., and On Demand Books, the company behind the Espresso Book Machine® (EBM), have entered into an agreement to enable a wide array of Bookmasters’ distribution clients’ titles to be available through EBM’s fast-growing “digital-to-print at retail” sales channel.

While the Hispanic population in the United States is expected to expand to nearly 50 million by 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, current purchasing patterns indicate that this 16 percent of the nation may not buy books at the same rate as the remaining 84 percent.

With a battered economy dragging down just about every retail sector, a salient fact making headlines has been the ability of discounters to maintain sales growth—a sure sign that the “Wal-Mart Effect” has permeated every corner of the business world, and that raising prices is probably not the way to realize profits. This leaves cost-cutting, which, for obvious reasons, book publishers would like to pursue aggressively without sacrificing either product quality or valued employees. Here are some tips from a cross-section of the publishing world for reining in costs without sacrificing too much in the process.

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