Five years ago, when Eric Kampmann cofounded Midpoint Trade Books in New York City with Gail Kump, Cris Bell and Ron Freund, he decided that the company didn't need a sales force to do a good job by its publishers. "Our mission then and now," said Kampmann, "was to allow publishers of any size to compete head to head with the biggest publishers. There is no reason why even the smallest publisher doesn't have an equal shot."

One of the first books Midpoint shipped in March 1996 was Wade B. Cook's The Wall Street Money Machine (Lighthouse Publishing), which went on to sell 450,000 copies. Today Midpoint represents 150 presses, and its sales last year were over $10 million. It still sells to Barnes & Noble through Ingram as a vendor of record account; independents are also sold VOR. "We like the independent stores, but we prefer them to use the Baker & Taylors, the Ingrams, the Koens to access our titles," said Kampmann. "I can't compete with the efficiency of Ingram."

By eliminating the sales force, Kampmann doesn't have to sell seasonally. "We're not dependent on catalogues," Kampmann noted. Midpoint also differs from the big houses by intentionally not pushing for large orders up front. Instead, he prefers to ensure that wholesalers have a sufficient supply, even for books that he hopes to break out, like Dr. Henry Lee and Jerry Labriola's Famous Crimes Revisited (Publishing Directions), which is inching up the Amazon bestseller list.

As he looks toward the future, Kampmann sees the U.K. as an area for potential growth. "I don't think for us it's been enormously lucrative yet," he told PW. Currently Midpoint represents 20 U.K. publishers, which account for 10% of the company's sales.