Better books, better rates.
In late 2018, the leaders of a small West Michigan press evaluated their options for fine-tuning their distribution network. The research left them underwhelmed — most of the distributors really don’t focus on small presses, and the ones that do insist on policies and fees that seem to guarantee that the distributor is the only stakeholder that makes any money.
Lakeshore Literary Logistics was founded in February 2019 and launched in August 2019 as a sister company of Caffeinated Press, Inc. The goal of L3 is straightforward: To put great small-press titles into the hands of wholesale book buyers in a way that reduces friction, abjures predatory up-front costs and prioritizes the discovery of up-and-coming literary talent. Oh, yeah, and making sure that small presses and their authors get paid for their work.
You might suspect that our rates and policies, outlined below, seem suspiciously altruistic. Let’s be clear: L3 is owned by the same people who also own a small press and print a literary journal. We prefer to make our money selling our books, not in profiting off the books of others. Because we believed it to be a strategically critical decision to engage in independent distribution for the sake of our own ongoing viability, our attitude is: The more, the merrier. As long as our expenses are met, we don’t look to L3 as a profit center. We look to the sale of the books we publish as our source of profit, not only for ourselves but also for the authors with whom we contract.
- You must be a traditional press or literary journal of any size. If you’re a one-author press, please check out our self-publishing program, instead. If you’re a subsidy/hybrid/vanity press wherein you charge authors for some or all of the costs of producing their book, we cannot carry your titles.
- Your books must feature an ISBN and a clear price point. We also welcome your literary journals as long as they already include a unique identifier for the volume and issue (a UPC or an ISBN). We maintain separate catalogs for long-form titles (novels, textbooks) and lit journals.
- We do not care how many other distributors you use. Use us as your sole distributor, or in addition to some other company. Your call!
- Our focus is bricks-and-mortar retailers. Although our catalog is open to the public at large, our business model prioritizes the wholesale-distribution market.
- We do not engage in e-book distribution, nor do we engage in generic fulfillment and warehousing operations.
- We do not buy books from you. You ship books to us, at your cost. (If you discontinue titles with us, we’ll ship them back to you at our cost.)
- You’re not locked in with us. Don’t like what we do or how we do it? We’ll part ways amicably. No drama!
- We share quarterly reporting that doesn’t require a Ph.D, a magnifying glass, or a secret decoder ring to understand.
- You’re welcome to set alternative base prices (or not!) for libraries, book clubs and schools.
- We’ll perform a quick check to assess your history, reputation and catalog. Usually, this assessment isn’t a big deal — basically, we’re verifying that you’re not a vanity press or a single-author outfit — but we reserve the right to decline to work with you if our spidey sense tingles.
Our fee-and-compensation structure is, we think, robust:
- We assess a one-time $25 enrollment fee per title. This fee covers our cost to review your paperwork, complete our database updates and shelf your books in our facility. We do not assess any other fees.
- We pay you a straight 30 percent of the full retail price for every book sold — no one wants to waste time looking for the Rosetta Stone that calculates net sales. We keep 15 percent, from which we pay our bills but also handle freight to bookstores. Bookstores obtain a straight 55 percent discount (the same amount you’re giving up for distribution, anyway). This revenue model is a bit better than plain-vanilla Ingram distribution if you print small-batch or POD, with the bonus of featuring in a significantly smaller catalog with better market targeting.
- By default, we pay quarterly upon hitting $50 in remittances due, or annually if you don’t hit that threshold (e.g., we don’t magically keep money owed to you indefinitely merely because you don’t hit an arbitrary threshold). If your needs differ and you require a one-off payment of payables or a different payment schedule, we can accommodate that with no drama. (Although if you demand that we urgently remit $1.27, we reserve the right to next-day-air you a baggie full of pennies.)
- We will advise, individually, about compensation and sales for when you remove titles from our catalog (we need to appropriately account, on a case-by-case basis, for bookstore returns).
Ready to get started? Complete the form, below. We’ll review it within a day or two, then provision your account and issue an Account ID number. After that, you’re welcome to enroll as many titles as you like.