In a direct challenge to current book industry pricing and delivery systems -- as well as to traditional national boundaries -- five English-language Christian publishers have announced the formation of an international publishing and distribution alliance.

To be known as Global Publishers, the consortium developed from months of negotiations among officers of the founding houses: STL Ltd. in the U.K.; Australia's Koorong Publishing; the South Africa-based Christian Art Distributors; Canada's R.G. Mitchell Inc.; and Baker Book House, based in Grand Rapids, Mich. Slated to release its first titles in April 1999, Global will have a no-returns/no-exceptions policy and a net-price invoicing system. Unit prices will be the same for all retailers and distributors without regard to order size or trade discount rankings. Point-of-sale retail pricing will be at the discretion of the final seller in order to reflect the realities of each seller's market. Each new Global title will be released simultaneously in the five participants' countries as an identical edition.

According to Rich Baker, CEO of Baker Book House, proposals and manuscripts may be presented by any member house to a Global committee for acquisition. Any manuscript chosen for publication will then be vetted for culture-specific content, adjusted for all five markets and produced in one massive press run with identical title page, content, jacket and illustration. Stock will ship directly from the bindery to each principal's warehousing facility and move to market through each partner's already established system. Such an arrangement, Baker told PW, will allow for constant adjustment of stock in response to the fluctuations of each market. "A book that d s not do well in the U.K. but is moving in Australia, for instance, simply has its U.K. excess stock shipped by STL Ltd., to Koorong," Baker said. "The books are all identical, so there is no obstacle to its immediate placement in the Australian pipeline, nor is there any reason to sacrifice the U.K. stock. It's a huge economy, and it obviates much of the rights and permissions process as well." However, Baker noted, principals hold exclusive distribution rights only to their own specific territories, leaving all other world territories on the open market.

Chris Johnsen of Christian Art Distributors pointed out another advantage to the new Global system: "The wide swings in currencies resulting in a world currency crisis has made the net pricing of books mandatory." Baker concurred, adding that his firm is "excited at the prospect of being part of a worldwide alliance for greater efficiencies" in the industry.