Selling books internationally in 2018

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Many American authors primarily focus on sales in the domestic market. Amazon.com and self-publishing platforms make that straightforward. However, it’s easier than ever to sell internationally. Front Edge Publishing’s print-binder partner Lightning Source Ingram (LSI) enables Front Edge Publishing books to be sold all over the world thanks to the Global Connect program. In fact, unless there’s a specific exemption, every Front Edge Publishing book is available worldwide.

The advantages to this strategy are several:

Avoid international shipping

By partnering with printers in foreign markets, LSI and FEP can print books in the country each book is ordered in. Shipping internationally can incur significant costs, which are avoided if a book is shipped domestically. This benefit is directly passed on to readers in the form of accessibility and lower prices.

Set individual retail discounts

Retail discounts determine the range of vendors that will stock a book. A typical retail discount is between 25-53%. Higher discounts are associated with brick and mortar bookstores, while lower retail discounts are for books that are intended to be sold online. Discounts higher than 53% are usually reserved for specific book fairs, events and conferences.

Distributing in multiple international markets allows publishers to work with a variety of retail discounts based on their goals for that market. For example, American History Made Easy is available at a higher retail discount in South Korea to allow South Korean bookstores to easily order and stock the book. This is important for accessibility because it makes it easier for readers to select quality books and try them out in the bookstore. 

American History Made Easy is designed to be read by English Language Learners (ELL). The layout uses an ELL-friendly font, making it easy to identify letters with no kerning issues, and there is no hyphenation at the end of lines, which is important for readers learning English, so there is no potential for confusion when learning new words. These layout advantages are not always clear when previewing a book in an online store, making bookstore-level retail discount an important strategy. 

Meanwhile, the book has a standard retail discount in the U.S. market to maximize author royalties, which enables additional funding of the English as a Second Language (ESL) programs run by Kathleen Gripman, the author of the book. Since Gripman promotes the book in person as well, there’s less need for bookstores to stock the book directly, as readers have greater access to preview copies than in South Korea.

Sell everywhere and connect with readers

Worldwide distribution maximizes an author’s potential to connect with readers all over the world. Feedback from international readers provides a new perspective for authors who are used to primarily writing for a U.S. audience. As a bonus, distributing in international markets exposes authors to additional reviews, which can then be syndicated across sales pages. For example, the Japanese Amazon sales page for American History Made Easy received a positive review that has been translated and included on all Amazon sales pages for the book. This strategy provides additional support for the book, as well as valuable feedback from readers all around the globe.

About Dmitri Barvinok

Director of Production Dmitri Barvinok works on the digital development, print layout and distribution of new books. He coordinates Front Edge editors and designers and works with the BookEdge software suite.