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How to Sell More Books to Corporations

By Brian Jud


Publishers seeking sales in non-bookstore markets often think only in terms of selling to retail outlets such as discount stores, warehouse clubs, airport stores or gift shops. However, there is an often-overlooked segment made up of buyers that frequently purchase books in large quantities, pays in 30 days and does not require a distributor. This niche is comprised of companies that buy books not necessarily for re-sale, but to motivate their sales forces, educate their employees, improve their images or use as sales incentives to sell more of their products.


This market can be lucrative, if you know how to sell to the buyers. This begins with an understanding of why they might use your books to improve their circumstances, to make their companies more profitable. An appeal to traditional buying motives may not work under these conditions. 


The people with whom you will be negotiating are skilled professionals, used to dealing with knowledgeable, competent sales representatives. The buyer is probably not the Purchasing Agent for the companies, but perhaps the Human Resources Manager, Sales Manger or Brand Manager. The content of your book will determine the prospective decision maker.


Many of these businesspeople have never thought about using books as promotional tools. So if you come across as a consultant with ideas to help them, you are more likely to make the sale. If you know how they could use your titles to sell more of their products or services you will find a willing ear. Below are suggestions to fuel your discussion. Use this list to help plan how they might best use your titles.


1) Human Resource planning. If you have a concept that would help employees plan for their retirement, ask people in the Human Resources department if they could use your titles in their retirement-planning programs. They might also consider titles that would help them implement other parts of their benefit programs.


2) Training and motivation. According to Frank Fochetta (VP, Director of Special Sales and Custom Publishing at Simon & Schuster), “Companies such as Herbal Life and Amway buy motivational and business books to resell to their distributors.” In many other businesses, managers regularly seek new ways to train and motivate their employees, too. Your titles on leadership, motivation, self-help, selling techniques or new business topics could be useful to these executives.


3) Gift to customers. Fiction and nonfiction titles may be the perfect gift for customers, employees or to recognize unusual events or special marketing periods. Mark Resnick (partner in FRW Company) tells us, “Some cruise ship lines, give passengers a thank-you gift upon departing the ship. Sometimes they use a book about one of the destination ports as the souvenir.


4) Sell through their stores. If companies have stores for employees, either on the premises or online, they may purchase your books for resale.  Majors Internet Company provides a service called The Company Bookstore. This is a business-to-business solution for selling books to employees of corporations. In effect, Majors puts a bookstore inside the corporation. Purchasing managers, Corporate Library Professionals, and Information Service Managers can link to a customized version of the company bookstore to offer employees access to a comprehensive database of titles.


Majors customizes The Company Bookstore for the corporate intranet, processes credit card transactions, picks, packs & ships, and provides management reports. Majors is a vendor for the corporate employee as well as for information centers, training and development, and research departments. J.A. Majors Company - 4004 Tradeport Boulevard, Atlanta, GA 30354; Phone: 404-608-2660, 1-800-241-6551, Fax: 404-608-2656,


Books Are Fun, Ltd. (A Reader's Digest Company) is a leading display marketer of books and gifts. They offer hardcover books, gifts, and educational products at savings of up to 80% off retail prices. Their book fairs and book displays supply innovative, premium quality products to corporations, schools, hospitals, and early learning centers throughout the United States and Canada. Books Are Fun serves over 60,000 schools, 12,000 corporations, 20,000 early learning centers, and many hospitals, universities, government offices and non-profit organizations in the United States and Canada through a variety of programs.


The Books Are Fun formula is simple. They buy huge, non-returnable quantities of books and gifts directly from publishers and manufacturers, and sell those products at deep discounts directly to end users through display marketing events. They typically donate a percentage of the proceeds in books or cash to the sponsoring organization or to a designated charity. Books submitted to Books Are Fun will not be returned. For questions regarding book submissions, email Book submissions can be sent to: Books Are Fun Attn: Submissions Department, 1680 Hwy 1 North, Fairfield, IA 52556.


5) Public relations. Companies may use books to establish, repair or improve their reputations. This may be accomplished by providing books to volunteer groups or by donating them to a worthy cause. Companies celebrating an anniversary may also use related books to help promote and celebrate the event.


    Charlene Costanzo sold her title, The Twelve Gifts of Birth, to children’s shelters to use as a fundraiser. But the image it created in the public’s mind was upbeat, creating positive word-of-mouth advertising for the shelters.


    Companies may use books to maintain or create an image, too. Many hospitals do this when they give a package of products to the parents of babies delivered there. If your title has information that is important to the first years of a baby’s life, it might be included in this package.


6) An addition to the corporate library. Some businesses have an internal library. If so, show the company librarians how your title could be appropriate to their needs. If it is on an applicable topic -- such as selling, industry information, motivation, or marketing – you might convince them to add your title to their collections.


7) Enhance other marketing campaigns. Laws and do-not-call lists limiting the activities of telemarketers will increase the use of direct mail to accomplish the same result. Businesses conducting direct-mail campaigns want recipients to open the envelopes immediately upon receiving them, and one way to do this is to offer a teaser on the envelope announcing a “free gift inside,” or an “offer for a free gift inside.” Statistics have proven this to be an excellent way to increase response rates, and your book or booklet may perform that function. 


8) Sales promotional tools. Brand managers have bottom-line responsibility for their product line and are interested in increasing their sales. Show them how they could use your titles to make this happen and you will find an interested prospect.


Coupon. Manufacturers may offer a dollars-off, in-pack, on-pack, or near-pack coupon entitling the bearer to a discount on your product. For example, a pet food company might include a coupon in a bag of dog food (in-pack) for a discount on your video about dog care.


     The manufacturer may offer the same coupon on-pack, printed on the exterior of the package and visible to the consumer. Near-pack coupons are provided at the point of sale (perhaps as a peel-off coupon or in a “take-one” container) in close proximity to where the item is being sold. For example, a coupon for a book containing holiday recipes could be placed near a display of Pfaltzgraff plates with Christmas décor.


    Coupons serve another function whenever the customer is required to send any information to you. Your company garners information to build its database, which can offset costs of the free items.


Premium. When used as a premium (an item given away to attract, retain or reward customers or to motivate employees), a product may be offered at a relatively low cost (or free) as an incentive to purchase a particular product. If the dog-food manufacturer mentioned above included your dog-care video inside the package – instead of a coupon for it – your product would be considered a premium.


Attend or exhibit at appropriate trade shows. The Incentive Show (held in New York annually, is an excellent place to display your products for use as premiums. You may also find rep groups there willing to carry your titles.


Prize. A high-price or high-value book might be offered as a prize in a contest or sweepstakes.


Samples. Businesses may use your items to give to customers or the general public at no charge in order to build goodwill, and traffic to their stores. They might place a sample chapter of your book on their website, offering the complete version as a self-liquidator.


Hammermill Paper Company purchased over 5000 copies of Paulette Ensign’s booklet 110 Ideas for Organizing Your Business Life as a premium for their sales representatives to leave behind with prospects after a sales call. The only change to which Paulette had to accede was to allow Hammermill to print the booklets on their paper to serve as a sample.


Self-liquidator. When a book is sold at a price low enough to entice buyers, but high enough to cover it’s cost, it is being used as a self-liquidator. Many supermarkets use this tactic to entice shoppers to buy more at their store. Here, buyers may purchase a book at a discounted price with a minimum purchase. Or shoppers may be offered a continuity series at a reduced price.


     Once you know how a prospective customer might use your titles, the next step is to contact and negotiate with them.



Brian Jud is an author, book-marketing consultant, creator of the Book Market Map directories for special sales, and author of “Beyond the Bookstore” (a “Publishers Weekly” book) and “The Marketing Wizard CD.” Contact Brian at P. O. Box 715, Avon, CT  06001; (800) 562-4357; or visit