Segmenting Trade Versus Industrial Book Printing
The book market is not homogeneous and a printer cannot serve the needs of all types of publishers. There were over 175,000 books published in 2003. These books were published by over 55,000 publishers ranging in size from one title to hundreds of titles. Yet, the average print quantity for a book over the entire lifespan of the book is only 7,500 copies. What determines the different types of publishers and their revenue potential to a book printer?
There are many different types of publishers: trade book, children’s book, scientific, technical and medical book, cookbook, travel book, foreign book, royalty, subsidy, vanity and self-publishers. With this many categories, selecting a segment is difficult. The choice needn’t be that hard, however.
First, books fall into one of two larger categories: trade books and industrial books. A trade book is sold through a traditional book distribution channel such as bookstores or retail stores. One defining characteristic of a trade book is that it has an ISBN (International Standard Book Number). A trade book typically has an EAN barcode so it can be scanned at the checkout counter. An EAN barcode combines the books ISBN number and its price bar code into one. Selling through traditional book distribution channels is difficult and competitive. Trade book publishers may be open to additional marketing pieces printed by the book publisher that will help promote the book.
An industrial book, by contrast, is not sold through traditional book distribution channels. It is generally targeted for a niche market, not the general population. It may, or may not, have an EAN barcode. Many book publishers are including an EAN barcode, however, because these barcodes give the book legitimacy in the reader’s eyes or the publisher may elect to sell the book through the book distribution channel in the future. For the most part, industrial book publishers have established channels to distribute their books and need very little assistance from the book printer for marketing ideas.
Examples of trade books include hard and soft cover fiction and non-fiction, children’s books, cookbooks, foreign language books, travel books, etc.
Industrial books include publications in the following areas: medical/healthcare, insurance, automotive, educational (including training but excluding schools), financial and directories.
In my book printing company, the average invoice for a trade book was $1,127. The average invoice for an industrial book was $1,765. We printed industrial books in the medical/healthcare, insurance, automotive and educational categories. For example, we printed healthcare directories of doctors for Blue Cross and automotive parts manuals for Nissan and Suzuki. Our industrial book printing was the base on which we built our business. Industrial books were predictable, repetitive and consistent printing for us.
Trade book printing was more varied and more inconsistent. Trade book publishers required more assistance and support throughout the printing process. In many cases, the trade book publishers printed once and never returned because their books never sold. On those occasions when they did sell, however, the trade book printing was a profitable as the industrial book printing. We had one book, “A Christmas Dozen,” that sold 7,500 in its first year—a success story for the publisher.
Don’t be fooled by the average invoices, however. Trade book printing offers more opportunity to print ancillary items for the publisher to support the sale of the book including items like review copies, bookmarks, postcards and the other items mentioned in the posting entitled "Printing Marketing Items for Book Publishers." Industrial book publishers have a more defined idea of the way in which they will market their books and may not need any assistance (or additional printing) from you.