Lakeshore Literary, Inc. launched in the summer of 2020 as a response to our ongoing frustration with the small-press distribution market. 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.
But succeeding at distribution is only one part of the puzzle.
Mission, Vision & Values
Mission. Lakeshore Literary helps bookstores bring small-press talent to their discerning readers, and helps authors bring great stories to market.
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.