Home > Uncategorized > Independent Christian Authors Can’t Rely on Spring Arbor

Independent Christian Authors Can’t Rely on Spring Arbor

Product needs to be placed with Anchor, Send the Light and International Distributors

In light of yesterday’s column about changes at Ingram Content Group, Spring Arbor is no longer a reliable choice for indie authors who want their product available to bookstores at a reasonable trade discount. If we’re talking several titles, or your self-publisher represents several artists, this make things a little easier, especially if physical books exist already and are not just sold print-on-demand.

Since not everybody gets picked up by Baker, Cook or Zondervan, Advocate Distribution is a strong alternative.

Since not every author gets picked up by Baker, Cook or Zondervan, Advocate Distribution is a strong alternative.

Most American stores have an account with Anchor Distributors or Send the Light Distribution. If you have several books to offer, Send the Light’s Advocate Distribution Solutions can provide fulfillment on a contract basis.

If a writer wants to ensure Canadian trade distribution from a domestic supplier the situation complicates. Historically, even if you have a great product, David C. Cook Canada, Foundation Distributing, and Augsburg-Fortress Canada are more interested in acquiring major U.S. publishing brands than they are in going to the bother of adding independent titles. If you’re a Canadian author, Foundation and Word Alive support homegrown authors but only to the extent your book is published with either Castle Quay or Word Alive Press. (Essence Publishing, in Belleville, Ontario has no distribution at all; stores often sources the Canadian-made product through Spring Arbor.)  In those cases, the words I was taught to repeat while working for the company that later became CMC Distribution (now part of Cook) continue to echo in my mind: “The market for Christian books is the U.S. market. Secure your U.S. deal and the book will fall into Canadian distributors’ hands automatically.”

But what if your U.S. distributor has no Canadian counterpart? Then it’s back to Send the Light and Anchor.

In the interest of efficiency, Canadian stores are reluctant to deal with too many suppliers. In the 21st Century, a new generation of bookstore owners have streamlined their bookkeeping and database processes. If the title is really hot and the indie publisher or author takes credit cards, they’ll place an order, but there is always the predisposition that independent product is somehow inferior to what the major publisher have on offer and sometimes, when it comes to packaging, marketing and editorial quality control, they are right. American store owners tend to be more entrepreneurial, but the rules of efficiency still apply.

The point for authors — many of whom follow articles at this site — is that if your custom publisher tells you that your product is automatically listed in the database at Spring Arbor, that’s no longer good enough. Personally, I would go the Advocate Distribution route*; your book (or CD) may even end up in a Spring or Summer flyer distributed to stores across the U.S., a possibility that Ingram Content Group does not offer.

*In a random survey of some of Advocate’s top titles, all were available at Amazon. I don’t mention the A-zon factor here because of long-running concerns as to whether or not this avenue of book distribution is sustainable over the longer term.



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