#WeAreUP: A Mark Saunders-inspired salute to sales reps

As I write, I am returning from four days in the incredible and inspiring company of the AUPresses community.  The spirit of our collective is working to rebuild itself around the chasm created by the loss of one of its finest craftsmen, Mark Saunders.  Mark knew how to create a compelling book, as a publisher, and as an author.  And he knew how to make those books impactful, from their content and form, to building the bridges they needed to travel to the book reader and buyer.  As the beloved and poignant #WeAreUP tributes this week have shared, Mark’s early craft was in bookselling, and he carried with him (along with catalogs and advance reading copies) a beautifully honed recognition of the importance of authentic and generous collaboration.

The art and science of bookselling at PUP is defined by such collaborations, and their energy and passions are fueled by consortial teams of sales representatives that we support with peer presses.  If you visit Seminary Coop Bookstore, and encounter a Princeton University Press title on its coveted front table, it’s because Lanora Haradon has visited the Chicago store to enjoy incredible conversations with Jeff Deutsch or Adam Sonderberg about the PUP list. And if you strolled past the Harvard Book Store recently, you might have delighted in the Princeton Publisher Focus window, thanks to Karen Corvello’s ingenuity.  Patricia Nelson’s passion for bookselling put her on the finalist list for sales representative of the year in 2019;  thanks to her, readers in Los Angeles can learn How to Win an Argument at Skylight Books.  In addition to the knowledge and joy these rep rapports generate for PUP, they also represent our peer presses @mitpress and @YaleBooks, comprising a consortial partnership (University Press Associates) managed deftly by our three @aupresses sales directors, including Timothy Wilkins at Princeton University Press. 

Just as these collaborations inspire and impact the Press and our books in North America, so too does a multi-press sales partnership in Europe, the University Press Group.  Jointly supported by @MITpress, @ColumbiaUP, @UCPress, and @PrincetonUPress, this UPG team, now managed by former Thames and Hudson and Ivy Publisher Simon Gwynn, is expanding the European reach of each of our presses, and expanding sales horizons for our books.  Working with our international sales director Andrew Brewer, Simon and a team of three full-time sales representatives have cultivated robust relationships with UK and European booksellers.  The Ancient Wisdom books greet those who seek classic “how to” advice books at Blackwell’s in Oxford thanks to Ben Mitchell’s bookselling wisdom.   In Barcelona, one can venture to La Central and find Lina Bo Bardi: Drawings, placed in that store by Dominique Bartshukoff, who travels from the Netherlands to Portugal in search of bookstores.  Near the Sorbonne, Peter Jacques has ensured that PUP titles like The House of Government  still resides in the specialist history bookstore Libraire des Belles Lettres, and in Belgium that The Lives of Bees created a buzz at ACCO booksellers. 

With each of these consortia, PUP books and their authors travel in minds, hearts, and suitcases of an incredible team of colleagues.  Their enthusiasm and expertise provide a bridge much like those that Mark Saunders crossed so ably, from creator to consumer, from passionate publisher to enthralled reader.  And, like Mark, they do so as beloved colleagues whose intelligence and expertise (and powers of persuasion) animate life and reading the world over.    

—Christie Henry, Director

 

Sales conference, Autumn 2019

International Sales Director Andrew Brewer: A Visit to Australia

Australia is large and a very long way away from the US and UK. These are well-known facts about the country. Less well-known, but common knowledge at the Press, is that Australia is a vibrant English-language book market, with a flourishing independent bookshop sector. Book sales are not dominated by online vendors. This is a very distinctive feature of the market there and makes it especially attractive for any English-language publisher, and especially one with global ambition.

But to return to the first point: Australia’s distance from our main centres of production means our books arrive there with a considerable freight cost applied. The result is an uncomfortable price fit with the local market. In addition the higher prices on our books actively encourage buying around, so individuals frequently take advantage of offshore online vendors, like The Book Depository in the UK (who offer free freight around the world). As a consequence, a proportion of our sales to Australia do not register in the ANZ territory at all.

Nevertheless, our sales and distribution partner in Australia – Footprint – have done a consistent job getting Princeton books into bookshops there, both chain and independent, and I travelled to Australia to judge this at first hand in February. Like the books, I also arrived with a considerable freight cost applied. It was my good fortune to be accompanied by Sarah Caro who, as well as joining me for some of my meetings, was there on the lookout for future authors among the local academic community. Sarah also found time to fulfill another of our global Princeton duties – adding to the Princeton in the World series:

 

We visited Melbourne and Sydney. There were many displays of Princeton books to be seen. Here are some highlights:

Readings Bookshop, Melbourne. This is a great bookshop, close to the university. Bright, modern, lively, with knowledgeable and engaged staff.

More from Readings. The Ancient Wisdom series was a constant bookshop companion throughout the trip, showing up in virtually every store we visited. We already know it’s a great series, but in distant locations like Australia, a series like this has great value for the way it extends the Princeton brand.      

Ai Weiwei books stacked up at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

The HIGHLIGHTS wall at the lovely Kinokuniya store in Sydney, where we see more Ancient Wisdom on display (middle drop, third shelf down).

And here is Ai Weiwei’s Humanity (bottom l/h corner), playing its part in the Crazy Good Asian promotion at the front of the Kino store:

 

Along with our visits to accounts, we were invited to the opening of the new campus bookshop at the University of New South Wales, where author Marcus Zusak gave an entertaining speech (he’s also a very friendly guy). Another striking element of the event was hearing the vice-chancellor of the university tell the audience that books and bookshops were central to the university’s vision for their students; this is an enlightened viewpoint!

The Future:

One result of the higher prices applied to Princeton books, and the buying around among consumers to better the local price, is rather flat sales year-to-year, which do not map onto our overall international sales growth.

So what are we doing to address this? One strategy is to experiment with locally produced editions of our books specifically for the ANZ market. The first such experiment will be John Quiggin’s Economics in Two Lessons. Quiggin is at University of Queensland, and his Zombie Economics did well for us in Australia. Because the trade market there has a strong preference for new titles in paperback, we will produce our edition of Quiggin in paper, priced at the level the market expects. It will be an interesting trial run for a programme we hope we can extend steadily over time.

In the longer term, we would also like to print more of our titles closer to the ANZ market. China is the obvious location. Production in China should reduce to some extent the cost-to-market for our books. Australia represents a wonderful opportunity for our books to sell, whilst also offering significant challenges. We look forward to establishing ourselves more firmly in the bookselling world there.

 

PUP supports the Bookselling Without Borders 2019 Kickstarter

#BWB2019

 

Princeton University Press is proud to partner with independent and academic presses on Bookselling without Borders, a fellowship designed to connect American readers to books from around the world. 

NEW YORK, New York (September 24, 2018) –– Twelve of America’s best independent publishers and university presses have come together to promote the 2019 edition of Bookselling Without Borders, a scholarship program that allows American booksellers and bookstore owners to attend the leading international book fairs.

From its foundation in 2016, when it provided one fellowship to one fair, Bookselling Without Borders has grown to become a unique opportunity both for professional booksellers at all stages of their careers and for veteran buyers, managers, and store owners. In 2019, it will not only offer 16 fellowships to four international book fairs but also two international bookstore residencies (in Italy and India). In 2018, fellowship awardees have attended the Turin Book Fair and will soon be departing for both the Frankfurt and Guadalajara Book Fairs. Enjoying a curated itinerary of meetings, panels, tours, and networking opportunities, booksellers return from the fellowship better informed, better connected, and better equipped to bring international and diverse books to American readers.

The program is supported directly by independent publishers, by industry partners that share the fellowship’s goals, and by an annual crowdfunding campaign, which launches this year on September 24 on Kickstarter. Funding from the campaign will be used to expand BWB’s activities to include more fairs, more fellowships, and to launch the international bookstore residency program.

The publishers and industry partners supporting Bookselling Without Borders are:

CatapultEuropa EditionsGraywolf PressGrove AtlanticMelville House BooksMilkweed EditionsOther PressPrinceton University PressRutgers University PressSeagull BooksShambhala Publications The University of Chicago Press

Ingram Content GroupShelf AwarenessFrankfurter Buchmesse

For more information visit www.booksellingwithoutborders.com

Or contact:

Steve Kroeter: 718-636-1345; swk@design101.com

Rachael Small: 212-868-6844; rachaelsmall@europaeditions.com

Stephanie Rojas: Getting to know Blackwell’s Oxford

Blackwell'sWalking down the stairs to the basement level of Blackwell’s Oxford, I did not immediately notice the cavernous room I had entered. As Sales Manager David Kelly described the history of the store to PUP Publicist Katie Lewis and me, I was engrossed in taking notes on my phone for a potential blog post. Typing as I walked, I finally looked up just as David was telling us that there is a total of three miles of shelving crammed into that one floor of the multi-level store!   

This year, I was privileged to have the opportunity to travel to the UK to attend the London Book Fair and to visit the Princeton University Press office in Woodstock, Oxfordshire in my role as Marketing & Social Media Associate. Thanks to my colleague Katie, I was excited to also be able to take a tour of Blackwell’s, PUP’s largest UK account, while I was in the area. Blackwell’s flagship location was not always as physically arresting as it is today. Opening its doors in 1879, the bookshop was about the size of a decent walk-in closet. Standing in the space, I imagined books piled high, partially blocking out the sunlight from the front windows, with floorboards creaking beneath my feet. The Blackwell family’s aim was to open a book store that catered not only to the many students who make their temporary home in and around Oxford, but also to the town residents. Today, that original space serves as an inviting entryway to rooms lined floor to ceiling with books. 

Blackwell's

The Atlas of Ancient Rome by Andrea Carandini. It’s always exciting to see a PUP book out in the wild!

Blackwell’s has an excellent reputation for stocking academic books; indeed, it is part of the philosophy of the store to stock every important book within a given field—rather than the one or two that might be bestsellers—because it is vital for readers to have access to the selection of different viewpoints and ideas. Blackwell’s is able to maintain that standard due to their online presence; in fact, they were the first bookshop to sell online (even though they readily admit that it was not executed as well as it could have been—they have come a long way in the intervening years!). But I was surprised to learn that Blackwell’s is also a leader in fiction—their sales in fiction have actually grown at double the rate of the industry for the past four years.

Blackwell’s is more than a bookstore; it is also a community hub. When I was there, they were in the middle of a sold out run of Dracula put on by Creation Theatre. They host an event nearly every Saturday, including a monthly series called Philosophy in the Bookshop in collaboration with British  philosopher and host of the Philosophy Bytes podcast Nigel Warburton. It seemed to me that there is always something interesting going on. 

My trip to Blackwell’s was certainly a highlight in a great week in the UK, and I hope I have the opportunity to visit again!

UP Week blog tour: Staff Spotlights roundup

#UpWeek

All week on our blog we’ll be featuring profiles of some of our PUP colleagues in editorial, production, publicity, social media, design, and more. If you didn’t catch them earlier, check out posts from copywriter Theresa Liu and the head of our European office, Caroline Priday, from earlier this week. Today we’re pleased to feature a roundup of links to posts from our friends in the wider university press and bookselling community:

Seminary Co-op Bookstore

Wayne State University Press

University of Washington Press

University Press of Mississippi

University of Wisconsin Press

Johns Hopkins University Press

University of Chicago Press

Purdue University Press