Ingram Product Allows Booksellers to Order Direct From Publishers

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On January 29, Ingram Book Group unveiled "pubsource," a new enhancement to its "ipage" Web site that provides booksellers with the ability to check availability and purchase book products directly from three participating publishers: Random House, Holtzbrinck Publishers Group, and HarperCollins.

And while some may wonder if, at the very least, it is counter-intuitive for a leading wholesaler to facilitate direct-to-publisher ordering, COO Jim Chandler told BTW it is just makes good business sense. "People are already [ordering direct from publishers]," he said. "We're just automating existing behavior. We're not going to change people's behavior, so we're making it easier for booksellers, and it will make ipage that much more valuable to them." In a release, Ingram noted that the arrangement will make ipage the single source for book product from Ingram and the three participating publishers by giving booksellers an online resource for finding prices, terms, and stock availability.

Chandler explained that pubsource will "allow publishers to take advantage of the benefits that we have realized from ipage and be able to convert what used to be orders over the telephone with a live operator to electronic orders that have non-human intervention."

When a bookseller places an order to a publisher through pubsource, the order is sent directly from Ingram to the publisher for fulfillment. Ingram is not involved in the pricing, terms, delivery, or customer service associated with orders made through pubsource. At the pubsource page, booksellers will be able to track shipping and check invoices, among other things. "[Booksellers] will also be able to access a homepage for each publisher; we maintain an online version of their catalog," noted Kent Freeman, president of customer service for Ingram, who added that Ingram incorporates nightly updates provided by the publishers, making the information current.

Noted Chandler, "ipage has shown us that technological innovations can serve to promote the industry at large and generate additional revenues across the board."

Ingram eventually plans to add a limited number of other publishers to pubsource, Freeman told BTW. --David Grogan