Evolution Part 3: A New Idea Takes Hold

At IPG we found ourselves declining to distribute some good books because their publishers were too new or too small. The parent company of IPG is Chicago Review Press (CRP), and there are still a couple of us here who remember vividly our early (1973) struggles to get that first book into the marketplace. (CRP now publishes 60–70 new titles a year). The IPG policy has always been to ignore the size of a publisher and focus only on the quality of the books. As the company has grown, however, the educational overhead has steadily increased to the point where completely legitimate questions from small publishers have become a very heavy burden.

So what to do? Luckily, a new approach capable of dealing with most of these problems has appeared. The traditional method of placing books in bookstores that a sales rep has visited with a catalog is augmented and in some cases superseded by electronic title data feeds. For instance IPG now sends data on all of its titles (40,000 active titles) to more than 90 important book customers.


This information includes cover images, author information, book specifications, descriptive text, and reviews. All of IPGs client publishers books are easily searchable by title, author, subject, key words, and more. Individuals and booksellers can efficiently find the titles they want and have no trouble sourcing them through the many different sales channels serviced by IPG. The availability of this data greatly increased IPG's sales.

This approach, however, would seem to leave a huge hole in the sales process. Who or what is actively pushing a title? How can searchability and availability, passive virtues, replace an active sales force?

Part 2: Distributors and Very Small Presses

Part 4 of 7: The Power of Good Title Data