After two decades in book publishing, O'Reilly & Associates in Sebastopol, Calif., known for its plain white computer books decorated with line drawings of mammals, is putting a new animal into its reps' bags. As of last month, O'Reilly's reps sell not only their own titles, but those of three computer presses formerly with PGW—No Starch Press in San Francisco, publishers of the Steal This Computer Book series; Paraglyph Press in Phoenix, Ariz., which does books on the gaming world; and Syngress Publishing in Rockland, Mass., which publishes for IT professionals and security specialists.
The change marks O'Reilly's first foray into book distribution. "We've been building a sophisticated infrastructure and wanted to leverage it," said O'Reilly executive v-p and COO Laura Baldwin, former CFO of Chronicle Books. "None of the publishers came to us. We sought all of them out. We wanted publishers that were complementary but not competitive." Although O'Reilly's first clients are technology oriented, Baldwin doesn't plan to add clients exclusively in that area. In addition to the usual distribution services—sales, warehousing, and shipping—O'Reilly provides direct marketing and PR support for its three clients. Their books are available on the O'Reilly Web site (www.oreilly.com) and in O'Reilly's consumer catalogue, which goes out to 125,000 customers each quarter. In order to add distribution services, O'Reilly has had to make only one staffing change. "We've added a distribution coordinator position," Baldwin told PW.