Ingram Chief Content Officer Phil Ollila on the Integration of Perseus’ Distribution Businesses

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In March, Ingram Content Group completed the purchase of Perseus’ distribution business, which includes four publisher services brands and their 600 publisher clients.

The purchase included Publishers Group West (PGW), Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, Perseus Distribution Services, and Legato. The acquisition also added Perseus’ distribution facility in Jackson, Tennessee, to Ingram’s network.

Updated terms for the four distribution brands, which Ingram Publisher Services sent in an e-mail to indie booksellers on Tuesday, September 6, will be added to the ABA Book Buyer’s Handbook.

Here, Phil Ollila, chief content officer for Ingram Content Group, details what booksellers should expect from the recent integration of Perseus’ four publisher services brands into Ingram Publisher Services.

Phil Ollila of Ingram Content GroupBookselling This Week: How is the integration of Perseus’ publisher services brands with Ingram Publisher Services progressing?

Phil Ollila: We’re five months into the transition, and we think the integration is going quite well. We look at that in a couple of ways:

We’ve spent a lot of time talking to our publishers, and our publishers are excited about the idea that we’re retaining the equity of our brands. We’re also talking to them about future programs with Ingram and they’re sticking with us, so we take that as a good sign. The other thing we’re excited about is we’ve retained all the people. Publishers Group West, Consortium, Legato, and Perseus Distribution came with a great group of publishing, bookselling, and sales and marketing professionals, and they’ve all stuck with us through the transition. Everyone has options in terms of where they spend their career, and we’re quite pleased these industry professionals are choosing to spend it with us. That must mean that we’ve got a good future in front of us.

On the practical side, we’re starting to put capital into the business where Perseus wasn’t a big investor — infrastructure. Already, we’ve made several-million-dollar investments in our Jackson facility in preparation for conversion to Ingram systems over the next 12–18 months. In other words, we’re putting our money where our mouth is.

BTW: What benefits will booksellers see from the integration of Perseus’ publisher services brands into Ingram Publisher Services?

PO: Immediately, booksellers started to see an improvement in customer service and shipping quality out of the Jackson facility. Taking from Ingram standard practices and applying it to Jackson, we’ve improved services already.

The big news is that on October 1 we’ll start shipping to independent booksellers at direct distribution terms and conditions of sale from their closest distribution center. Ingram has four distribution centers: in Oregon, Indiana, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. Indie booksellers get their books out of those four warehouses for our wholesale business and for Ingram Publisher Services, the distribution arm of Ingram. Now, all the distribution arms — Ingram Publisher Services, PGW, Consortium, Perseus Distribution, and Legato — will be available out of those four distribution centers at direct terms and conditions of sale.

All those distribution brands are going to be available from their closest Ingram distribution center and will combine with their wholesale business for free freight. They’ll get free freight at 15 units, and the wholesale units and distribution units count towards achieving free freight.

BTW: Will the integration help fill the void that booksellers in the Pacific Northwest and other areas felt with the closure of Partners Book Distributing in March?

PO: We have a really good relationship with Vicky Eaves and Sam Speigel at Partners. They’ve given us a lot of information in terms of what was selling. But we also conducted focus groups in San Francisco and Los Angeles for leaders in independent bookselling. They told us what was important with regard to their Partners relationship. And we actually hired the inventory manager and buyer from Partners, Trent Shaw, so our wholesale sales person in the West who was a Partners employee.

BTW: Will booksellers be dealing differently with their sales reps? Will there be more reps in the field?

PO: We’ve expanded the size of the field sales force that’s selling distribution. In the past at Ingram, our wholesale reps and distribution reps were one and the same. Elise Cannon is running the field sales group for distribution; that’s now a separate field sales group that’s only going to be selling distribution clients. We have a separate wholesale group under Ron Smithson.

The business is big enough now where we can have a sales team dedicated to the wholesale relationship and a separate sales team dedicated to bringing publishers’ books to market. In fact, what’s going to happen at the bookstores is that they’ll have two Ingram reps: one for distribution and one for wholesale, with a larger sales force on the distribution side.

Booksellers with questions can contact Ingram Customer Service at (866) 400-5351 or [email protected].