Donald Roseman, vice president of retail sales at Ingram, told Bookselling This Week that the number of participants in both Booklove, a rebate program for indie bookstores, and Indie Vault, which sets aside inventory for indies, have increased with each passing year. Ingram, he added, is also continuing to make improvements to both programs every year as well.
“What we’ve done on the Booklove program this year is we’ve made it easier to sign up, and if you’ve been in the program before we’ve re-enrolled you so you don’t have to sign up every time,” said Roseman. “With the Indie Vault, nothing has changed per se but we’ve gotten better at what books we put in there. Much of that is tied to the insights that Ingram has into the industry and what books we think will be big, but just as important is the feedback we get from the retailers.”
When booksellers sign up for the Booklove indie rebate program, they are provided with a sales goal for the year based on their previous year’s sales with Ingram. Booksellers who meet their goal by the end of the year earn 0.5 percent of their net sales in credit with Ingram, and participating booksellers regularly receive e-mail updates about where their store stands in the program, helping booksellers ensure sales are on track. The program includes every title in Ingram’s distribution network, including wholesale and distribution brands.
According to the company, ABA members currently make up 68 percent of the program’s participants, and 25 percent of all ABA members participate in the program. Booklove, which launched in 2016, awarded $120,000 in rebates for indie booksellers in 2017, according to Ingram.
Len Vlahos, co-owner of Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, Colorado, with Kristen Gilligan, said his store is proud to participate in Ingram’s Booklove program.
“Ingram is a longtime and valued partner of Tattered Cover, and we think Booklove has been a great way to strengthen and develop that relationship further,” Vlahos told Bookselling This Week. “The program benefits us both.”
Another fan of Ingram’s Booklove program is Kathi Kirby of Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. Kirby told BTW that Powell’s staff are enthusiastic about the program and consider participation a win-win for the company, for Ingram, and for publishers as well.
“In the years we have achieved the sales goal, the resulting rebate has added to our bottom line, which is especially welcome in January,” said Kirby. “If we fail to meet the goal there is no penalty, so there is no pressure. The Booklove program is a nice incentive to help us closely scrutinize our return on inventory investment and to evaluate sales trends and to fill inventory holes, resulting in more sales from both wholesale and publisher.”
Ingram’s Indie Vault program offers a supply of in-demand titles that are set aside exclusively for indie bookstores, to make sure stores have access to popular bestsellers, highly anticipated titles, and titles that suddenly pop. The program, created as a direct result of a series of focus groups with independent booksellers, rolled out nationally in 2017. Ingram currently calculates that 59 percent of Indie Vault purchases have come from ABA members; the company also reports that 30 percent of all ABA members have made purchases from the Indie Vault.
New titles are constantly added, and participants receive weekly e-mails that showcase Vault titles; booksellers can also log into Ingram ipage to see what books are there. Some of the current titles in the Vault include Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis (Thomas Nelson); My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin Press); Everything Trump Touches Dies by Rick Wilson (Free Press); The Russia Hoax by Gregg Jarrett (Broadside Books); and The Dubrow Diet by Heather Dubrow and Terry Dubrow, M.D. F.A.C.S. (Ghost Mountain Books).
According to Kirby, Powell’s closely watches the reserved inventory in the Indie Vault, which “has been a helpful tool to see what’s selling nationally.”
Lois Hanson, manager at Paragraphs Bookstore in Mount Vernon, Ohio, is another bookseller who considers herself a fan of Indie Vault.
“When I check stock availability about a current bestseller and see zeroes in all the warehouses, I can be confident that the book will be in the Vault just waiting for me to order one or two copies,” said Hanson. “I don’t have to worry that the chains or big box stores will be the only place to find the mega-hit. The Indie Vault, as its name proclaims, is just for us indies.”
For more information about these or any Ingram programs, booksellers can contact an Ingram sales representative at (800) 937-8200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.