This year Ingram (booth 902) is changing things up with an I-spy-style scavenger hunt in a booth extension that has been set up to resemble the interior of an independent bookstore. The store features hundreds of titles, including many from Ingram’s 36 independent distribution clients. Winners will receive a range of prizes, from gift baskets full of books and swag to iPage credits.
Branded “Indies on the High Line,” the promotion is one of the ways that Ingram wants to let indie booksellers know about the range of services it offers in an entertaining way, says Shawn Everson, Ingram’s chief commercial officer. Those services include a new Stock Check app and a number of promotions.
“We envision [the app] will be a tool for booksellers to assist customers right on the sales floor, without having to return to a computer to see if a book is available,” Everson says. In addition, Ingram is putting a special emphasis on promoting LGBTQ titles this year. Pride Week follows soon after BookExpo, says Brian McKinley, Ingram’s v-p of marketing and brands. “And,” he continues, “we also want to highlight many of the great LGBTQ titles we have and bring them to the attention of our booksellers.”
Ingram’s focus on independent booksellers comes at a time when the company has reported a surge in new accounts following Baker & Taylor’s decision to exit the retail wholesale business. “When this announcement was made, we opened 238 accounts that week, when 20 or 30 were normal. Of those, 132 were retailers that sold books. Thirty-seven new accounts were for Ingram Publisher Services, our distribution business, and another 36 were international retail accounts,” says Everson.
Anticipating an influx of new orders, Ingram also raised the credit ceiling for nearly 300 of its smallest store accounts. “This,” notes Everson, “was in line with holiday credit levels, [and] nearly doubles what they can order. We also put them into a higher tier of discounts. This will in turn unlock more opportunities for free freight and, based on their volume of business, unlock more rebates.”
The message that Ingram wants to convey, Everson says, is “we listen.” The company is eager to demonstrate a good-faith attitude toward indie booksellers who may be less familiar with its systems and culture. “We have been in constant dialogue with the American Booksellers Association, our publishing partners, and all the constituents in the value-chain to help indies make the best of this period of transition, and thrive, now and into the future,” says Everson. “Our job is making sure that retailers and publishers succeed on both ends.”