A strong presence in the trade, BuchMarkt

For the 50th time, Prolit has now launched a bundled preview mailing for its publishers delivering to Prolit – currently with 68 participating publishers to over 3400 bookstores. That was the reason for today’s Sunday meeting with Prolit Managing Director Jochen Mende:

Already for 50 years there is a bundled preview dispatch with you?Jochen Mende: No – not since 50, only since 25 years – but now for the 50th time – because twice a year.

I mocked because you’ve felt that for ages. Why did you come up with the idea?

“We have invented bundled shipping to save publishers and bookstores time and effort. The first time in 1993, 21 publishers were involved. In recent years, the number of participants has stabilised at 70 publishers. Currently, instead of 240,000 items, only 3400 were sent – the savings in postage and packaging material (as well as its disposal in the trade) are immense. At the same time, the programmes of the participating independent publishers (pre-sorted alphabetically) will be given a strong retail presence. On top of that, it is signalled that these programs will also be delivered bundled (in invoice and package) by Prolit.

Will there still be print previews in another 25 years – keyword Digital Preview / VLB-TIX?

Please let the next generation deal with this question. In my opinion, only about half of publishers and bookstores currently see advantages in digital previews. Printed previews are still the preferred option. Our task is to meet the demands of both groups.

And how does that work?

We have therefore recommended that our publishing houses, as premium publishers, make their previews digitally available on VLB-TIX. 69 publishers have already followed this recommendation. Since Prolit has booked the ‘feature distribution cooperation’ with VLB-TIX, it is possible to ‘copy’ the bundled dispatch of the print previews in the digital area. There, too, you will see all the previews together, where we will also inform you about our Prolit Partner Program (PPP), our ideas for optimizing the procurement of goods and about new publishers in delivery. Our regular PPP newsletter is also linked there.

And what will become of the bundled dispatch of the printed previews? We will continue to offer them to publishers and bookstores. All publishers delivering to Prolit can continue to use it – alternatively or additionally. All bookstores can also choose. If they do not contact us, they will continue to receive the complete package with the printed previews. Let us know that you only want printed previews for those publishers who have not added a digital version to VLB-TIX, and we will take this wish into account when sending out bundled print previews.

And do bookstores, e.g. chain stores, no longer want any printed previews in the future?

…we will also take this into account and remove them completely from the distribution list.

Do you see any advantages in digital previews?

VLB-TIX is already an excellent tool for many publishers and bookstores today, but it certainly still needs further development.

What’s the matter with you?

The digital preview already offers possibilities that cannot be realized in print at all or not at reasonable cost – e.g. continuously updating the preview or enriching it with additional material. I can also imagine bookstores using the material, for example, for their own customer approach, their own newsletter. And it is quite certain that processes in the field of sales representative appointments will become more rational.

But it also has drawbacks, as I can hear?

The fear that independent publishers will not be able to keep up with the costly presentations of large competitors for their top titles and that they will not be able to afford them cannot be dismissed. This applies in particular to the print and digital previews, which are expected to take place in parallel for a long time. Also, rationalized processes of representative appointments (or even the renunciation of such appointments) are quite certainly detrimental to the often special need for mediation, e.g. in the case of fiction titles from fine publishers. After all, I would still prefer to read longer texts on paper rather than on screen, not to mention the feel of a well-done printed preview.

The questions were asked by Christian von Zittwitz, who has been friends with Jochen Mende for 100 years.

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Christina Cherry
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