Books need to be distributed as well. The problem is, instead of 24 cupcakes, there are hundreds of thousands of books that need to be distributed. How does an organization actually get hold of a book? No one has time to keep up with thousands of books that get published every year.
The way the industry has solved this is to set up distribution channels. Retailers subscribe to one or more distribution channel, such that with each channel, they will get a sampling of many publishers’ book lists. Each distribution channel has a selection that may appeal to the larger retailers, or smaller niche retailers. For example, an independent bookstore for example, may decide to sell 60% of books from niche book publishers, but reserve 10% for non-fiction bestsellers, and 30% for the best sellers. Therefore, that bookstore may subscribe to at least 3 distribution channels. A school library may be heavier on stocking books from Capstone, a well-known educational publishing house, but also want to access a publisher specializing in middle-grade chapter fiction books, so its distribution channels will look very different from the first example.
What I’m trying to get at with this blog and this fictitious image (those channels are made-up ones) is that there are a myriad of distribution channels, and that you want your book to be eligible to be included in as many lists as possible. Read that sentence again. There’s a huge difference between “being included” on a list, and “being eligible to be included” on a list. Being included depends upon being discovered AND sought after. But if you’re discovered, yet only 2 out of let’s say 10 channels can include you on their list, you’ve severely hindered your chances of being MORE discovered. So, you want to give your book every allowable chance to be discovered, which means making sure more channels are open to it from the start.
I of course wanted to give as much flexibility as possible to being included on distribution channels, so I opted for the ISBN that was going to give me the most flexibility. Unfortunately, this did not get me the library/academic institution channel. There is a work-around solution that CreateSpace offered, and that was to go ahead and have a separate CreateSpace ISBN assigned. If I did that, I’d now have 2 ISBN numbers, however, I use that 2nd ISBN solely for the academic/library channel, and ignore the first ISBN that would open up ALL the other channels.
I bet you’re wondering at this point why I didn’t select the CreateSpace-assigned FREE ISBN in the first place? After all, it gives me access to ALL distribution channel options, and it was FREE, so why did I opt to pay for an ISBN that limited access to all channels? Answer, next post!