Since Brian Jud took over as executive director of SPAN (Small Publishers Association of North America) at the start of 2013, he has moved quickly to carve a new niche for the association, which was renamed the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS) on July 1. The name change reflects the organization’s new mission: to become the primary source of information for publishers who want to increase their sales in nontrade markets.
According to Jud, whose background is in special sales, associations such as PubWest and IBPA do a good job of helping independent publishers sell to physical and online bookstores. “We needed to differentiate ourselves,” said Jud in explaining the move to rebrand as APSS. So while IBPA will send out a mailing on behalf of its members to bookstores, for example, APSS will send out mailings and e-mail blasts to targeted special markets, such as human resource departments, schools, and the military.
In addition to reorienting the association, Jud is reinstating two popular programs that SPAN had suspended: a monthly newsletter and an annual conference. The newsletter is now called “The Sales Informer” and is sent via e-mail rather than in print. APSS’s first annual conference is set for November 8–9 in Philadelphia, with a keynote by Sumya Ojakli, senior director of special sales for Simon & Schuster. In addition to panels on various topics related to special sales, the conference will offer one-on-one sessions with Jud and Guy Achzehn aimed at developing a special-sales strategy for individual publishers.
APSS has also initiated some new services and programs for members. These include twice-monthly educational webinars and discounts in a number of areas, such as e-book conversion, Web site development, publicity and shipping services, and subscriptions to PW. Members can also take part in trade shows at special market events. As part of the organization’s revamped Web site (www.bookapss.org), Jud is developing an e-bookstore that will enable publishers to make special sales offers to corporations. About 20 publishers have agreed to supply titles to the test program, Jud said.
The new direction of APSS has increased paid membership by about 100 publishers since the beginning of the year, with the number of members now at around 500. Jud said membership is open to all “multi-title” publishers and that one of his objectives is to attract more midsized publishers that are interested in reaching special markets. “The opportunity for sales to nonbookstore venues is increasing,” Jud said, adding, “APSS intends to help its members exploit this opportunity profitably.”