By Authors, For Authors
Lakeshore Literary Logistics was formed in February 2019 and launched in August 2019 as a response to our ongoing frustration with the small-press distribution market. Our leadership team also serves on the board of Caffeinated Press, a tiny indie press that — like so many of our peers — struggles to gain sales traction in a market dominated by a handful of very large players who pay very little attention to small-press titles.
Most national distributors are happy to play the role of the fat-cat middleman, charging additional fees and passing along the distributor’s own costs. Retailers feel the squeeze, too; some of them only earn a 30 percent discount on the books that the publishers gave up for 55 percent off. Is it any wonder that Amazon — which combines distribution and retail into one Prime-supported package — has laid waste the traditional publishing industry?
Before we launched, we explored nearly two dozen different, high-profile distributors, each of which either refused to disclose their fee schedules in advance of signing a contract (i.e., before being upsold by a
- One distributor assesses a $270 flat annual fee for the privilege of doing business with them; another charges a $200 “setup” fee.
- One only pays the publisher after it’s earned $200 in revenue.
- Several require exclusivity, despite their relatively modest market share among retailers.
- Some make the publisher pay for shipping and warehousing, resulting in a convoluted “net” payment that eats into the publisher’s already minority stake in the book’s revenue stream.
- Most refuse to disclose publisher-acceptance criteria, but instead insist that the publishers submit material like marketing plans, financial reports, detailed title histories, and related information.
- One charges a 5 percent “restocking” fee if books are returned, on top of the fact that the payment was reversed!
- Only one supports self-published authors — but only if they’ve got a “huge” [sic] platform.
Wow. Just … wow. Literary distribution is broken. Profoundly broken. Only Amazon really wins.
To save our industry, we must do better. And we think that by treating distribution as a service, rather than a separate profit center, is a key part of improving the financial prospect for authors and small presses.
Mission, Vision & Values
Mission. Lakeshore Literary Logistics empowers bookstores to bring small-press talent to their discerning readers.
Vision. We will set a new paradigm for the print publishing industry by reforming the distribution market to the benefit of authors, readers and booksellers.
Values. We value transparency and boldness.
L3 is a Michigan-based S-Corporation founded in 2019. Current executives include:
- Jason E. Gillikin (president)
- Brittany K. Wilson (chief financial officer)
Gillikin — who earned a degree in quantitative political science and applied moral theory from Western Michigan University — also (separately) leads Diction Dude, an editorial-consulting agency offering online education, a weekly news-and-craft podcast, and support services for emerging literary talent. He co-founded Caffeinated Press and serves as executive editor of The 3288 Review. He supports the West Michigan literary community by serving on the board of directors of Write616, a non-profit writers’ center. He’s spent nearly 20 years in the industry in roles ranging from newspaper editor to freelance content editor to small-press leader.
Lakeshore Literary Logistics intends to accomplish its mission, in light of its vision by:
- Develop initial base of partner small presses.
- Build market partnerships with indie bookstores, with an initial focus on first Michigan and then the Upper Midwest.
- Launch the Journal-of-the-Month club.
- Achieve milestones of at least 100 partner bookstores and at least 50 partner presses.