How to get your book into libraries

There are many advantages to getting your book into libraries. Aside from the fact that libraries may have big budgets, your book will also get more exposure and it's good publicity for you as an author long term.

You should create a sell sheet with a targeted headline based on your book’s topic, such as "Are the people who come into your library anxious to lose weight?", etc. This way you’ll be able to get the librarian’s immediate attention.

You should create a sell sheet with a targeted headline based on your book’s topic, such as "Are the people who come into your library anxious to lose weight?", etc. This way you’ll be able to get the librarian’s immediate attention.

Include a cover letter in your mailings, along with a list of libraries that already carry your book.

The American Library Association maintains a library directory at, where you can search for public and university libraries by state. This is an easy way to find library websites in a particular area quickly, but it may not include all branch locations. This site also lists state libraries and archives, national libraries, presidential libraries, and public law libraries.

All book marketing materials should be sent to the “Collection Development Librarian.” In larger libraries it’s best to address materials to a specific subject librarian such as “Collection Development Librarian for Business Books.” You can also call the library to ask who makes buying decisions for your subject area.

Supplying Books to Libraries

Books can be supplied to libraries through re-sellers or directly from the author or publisher. There are various options in doing this.

Working with Re-Sellers

If you have published through a subsidy publisher (aka self-publishing company or POD publisher) check with your publisher to make sure that your book is available through at least one of the major book wholesalers (Ingram or Baker & Taylor). Some of these publishers may require an additional fee for wholesale distribution.

The information below is for independent publishers, who will need to deal directly with re-sellers.

Approximately 75 to 80 percent of library book orders are placed through wholesalers or distributors. It’s much easier and cheaper for libraries to place one order with a wholesaler or distributor, rather than dealing with many individual publishers, so many libraries will be reluctant to purchase your book unless it’s available through one of their suppliers. However, some acquisitions librarians shop around at several sources, including Amazon, looking for the best prices on each title.

Distributors market books on behalf of the publishers they represent. They typically have sales reps, or at least a catalog, and actively solicit orders from bookstores and libraries. Publishers usually seek a distributor primarily for bookstore distribution, but there are two distributors (Quality Books and Unique Books) that specialize in library sales.

Wholesalers (also called jobbers) usually do no marketing—they simply receive and process orders from libraries and retailers. The publisher or distributor is responsible for generating demand. Most wholesalers don’t stock a book unless it is in high demand; for lower volume titles they order from the publisher or distributor as necessary to fulfill orders.

Some wholesalers offer collection development services to libraries, and some offer advertising opportunities to publishers. Library wholesalers often offer discounts to libraries and may provide other library services such as cataloging.

Two companies, Baker & Taylor and Ingram, dominate the wholesale book business. Although there has been much consolidation in the business in recent years, there are still several smaller wholesalers serving the library market as well.

Baker & Taylor

Baker & Taylor (B&T) is by far the largest library wholesaler, probably accounting for close to half of all book sales to libraries. They also fulfill orders for the bookstore and supply retail bookstores.

Baker & Taylor is more willing to work with small publishers than some of the others. Go to to learn more about their small press programs. For small and independent publishers, B&T requires a 55-percent discount, return privileges, and an upfront fee of $125.

Members of SPAN (Small Publishers Association of North American) and IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) may receive a discount on Baker & Taylor’s Partner Program fee – check each organization’s current list of member benefits.

However, many publishers work with Baker & Taylor outside of their regular vendor program, selling at lower discounts and paying no listing fees. If you generate demand and libraries start ordering from B&T before you sign up for one of their programs, they may start sending you orders and you will be in a better position to dictate your terms. They really don’t want to turn down orders from libraries.

Some indie publishers have reported that Baker & Taylor refused to order their books unless they joined the Partner Program. If your book is available through Lightning Source, try submitting your title to B&T using the submission form on this page:

List Lighting Source in the “Vendor Name” field and list your publishing company as the “Imprint Name.” In the “discount to B&T” field, enter the wholesale discount that you set at Lightning Source.

Another way to get your book into the Baker & Taylor system is to make it available for print-on-demand printing through CreateSpace (owned by Amazon) and opt for their expanded distribution services.

Ingram Book Company

Ingram Book Company dominates the wholesale business to bookstores (including, but is also a major supplier to libraries.

Ingram normally will not deal directly with publishers who publish fewer than 10 books. Printing through Lightning Source is the best way for small independent publishers to get listed with Ingram. Lightning Source books are automatically listed as available in Ingram’s database, because both companies are owned by the same parent company.

If you do offset printing, you can also make your book available through Lightning Source, but consider the impact on your Amazon sales first. Aaron Shepard, the leading expert on working with Lightning Source and Amazon, offers this excellent primer on Lightning Source:


The Independent Book Publishers Association (IPBA) has recently launched a program to help their members with fewer than 10 titles in print get access to Ingram, but it requires paying fees to Ingram. Learn more at

It’s a good idea to send a sell sheet to the major library wholesalers, requesting that your book be entered in their database. Be sure to include your ordering information. However, I would not recommend paying a listing fee to any of the wholesalers, with the

possible exception of Baker & Taylor. It is not necessary to send a review copy of books to the wholesalers.

Wholesale Discounts

You will need to offer a discount of 20 to 55 percent to wholesalers and it’s best to offer the same discount to everyone in the same “class” of customers. Some wholesalers will try to dictate the amount of discount, but they will generally order on your terms if they have customers who want the book. They don’t want to turn down orders. If you are not pursuing the retail bookstore market, you can sell to wholesalers at 20 percent discount.

If you are trying to get retail (bricks and mortar) bookstores to stock your book, you will need to set your wholesale discount at the traditional 55 percent, since bookstores will also be ordering through Ingram and Baker & Taylor.

Dealing directly with the wholesalers can be a hassle, and I advise caution in extending credit to resellers. When you ship books to wholesalers, be sure to get proof of delivery and to follow their billing instructions exactly. It typically takes 60 to 90 days to receive payment, but sometimes it is difficult to collect. In 2009 both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s downgraded their credit ratings on Baker & Taylor, and the recent Border’s bankruptcy filing has probably had an impact on the company as well.

Some small publishers require resellers to pre-pay for their orders, but the results are mixed. Sometimes the orders are pre-paid and sometimes resellers ignore the request for pre-payment.

One way to avoid dealing directly with the wholesalers is to make your book available through Lightning Source and request that wholesalers order directly from them. While your printing cost will be higher than with your offset printed books, it may be worth it.

If you elect to have Lightning Source supply the wholesalers, make that very clear on the materials that you send to them.

Approval Programs

If your book has strong national sales potential in libraries, inquire about Baker & Taylor’s approval program, where selected books are sent to libraries on approval. (Libraries can return the books if they don’t want them.) YBP Library Services and Blackwell also have approval programs.

Below is contact information for the major library wholesalers:

Baker & Taylor

To establish an account, email

To submit new title information, email

Largest library wholesaler; also sells to bookstores; offers advertising.

Ingram Book Company

One Ingram Blvd., P.O. Box 3006,

LaVergne, TN 37086-1986

Phone: 866-400-5351

Fax: 800-838-1149

Largest bookstore wholesaler; also sells to libraries.

Ambassador Books and Media

160 Finn Court

Farmingdale, NY 11735

Phone: 631-770-1010 Fax: 631-770-1041


Supplies academic, corporate, public, government, and medical libraries.


100 University Court

Blackwood, New Jersey 08012

Phone: 800-257-7341

Fax: 856-228-6097

Has locations in the U.K., U.S. and Australia.


Phone: 800-474-9816


Supplies public, academic, and school libraries.

BWI (Book Wholesalers, Inc.)

1340 Ridgeview Dr. McHenry, IL 60050

Phone: 815-578-4592 or 800-888-4478 Fax: 815-578-4680 or 800-888-6319


Specializes in children’s and young adult titles for public libraries; also carries graphic novels, and adult and reference materials. Owned by Follett.

Coutts Information Services

1823 Maryland Ave. P.O. Box 1000 Niagara Falls, NY 14302-1000 Phone: 800-263-1686 Fax: 905-356-5064


Owned by Ingram; bought out Franklin.

Davidson Titles

Phone: 800-433-3903

Fax: 800-787-7935

Contact Form:

Specializes in pre-K through 12th grade materials, plus non-fiction, fiction, reference, Spanish, and bilingual books for schools and public libraries. Offers collection development assistance.

Eastern Book Co.

55 Bradley Dr. Westbrook, ME 04092

Phone: 800-937-0331

Fax: 800-214-3895


Supplies academic, special, and public libraries


P.O. Box 2543 Birmingham, AL 35202-2543 Phone: 205-991-1211

Specializes in periodicals; also fulfills book orders, especially reference and serials.

Emery Pratt

Phone: 800-248-3887

Fax: 800-523-6379

Contact Form:

Supplies academic, public, and hospital libraries.


2233 West St. River Grove, IL 60171-1895 Phone: 708-583-2000 Fax: 708-452-9347 Contact Form:

Large supplier to public libraries and K-12 school libraries.

J.A. Majors

Owned by Baker & Taylor; offers advertising and direct mail.

Midwest Library Service

11443 St. Charles Rock Rd. Bridgeton, MO 63044-2789

Phone: 800-325-8833 or 314-739-3100

Fax: 800-962-1009 or 314-739-1326

Specializes in academic and scholarly books.

The Book House

208 West Chicago St. Jonesville, MI 49250

Contact Form:

Supplies all types of libraries.

YBP Library Services

999 Maple St. Contoocook, NH 03229

Phone: 800-258-3774 or 603-746-3102 Fax: 603-746-5628


Formerly Yankee Book Peddler; now owned by Baker & Taylor.

Ebook and Digital Audio Book Distributors

Many libraries offer ebooks and digital (downloadable) audio books to their patrons. This is a relatively new area. Some large publishers are limiting the number of times that ebooks can be checked out, while others are choosing not to sell to libraries at all.

If you are generating good demand for your printed books in libraries you might want to explore this option. Libraries purchase ebooks and downloadable audio books through distributors such as these, but these companies may not be open to working with self-published authors:


MyiLibrary (part of Ingram Digital Content Group)



Follett Shelf (school libraries)

Library Ideas

Library Book Distributors

If libraries are a strong market for your adult nonfiction book, consider seeking national distribution through Quality Books or Unique Books. These companies are quite similar, but Quality is the older and larger of the two. Quality and Unique are not exclusive distributors—you can work with both of them—and they specialize in working with small presses. Both companies employ about 25 regional sales reps who make personal sales calls on libraries to present their books.

Contact these distributors early, before going to press if possible. They prefer to represent new books, and you can have the book drop shipped from the printer if it’s accepted. They typically order a beginning inventory of 50 to 100 copies, and re-order in quantity as necessary.

Both companies sell on consignment (with publishers being paid after the book is actually sold to a library) and they have a reputation for paying on time. Quality offers the option of receiving payment 30, 60, or 90 days after the sale, with discounts ranging 55 to 65 percent (higher discount for quicker payment).

Quality Books represents adult nonfiction, selected children’s and young adult book titles, and non-theatrical DVD titles. No adult fiction. For a description of what they are looking for and how to apply, go to:

Quality Books

1003 W. Pines Road

Oregon, IL 61061

Phone: 815-732-4450 or 800-323-4241

Fax: 815/732-4499

Unique Books operates similarly to Quality Books. They carry a range of subject matter, but their particular specialties include:

 African-American Interest

 Business (highlighting personal finance)

 Career (with special attention to home-based businesses and a strong range of blue to white collar guides)

 Consumer Health

 Crafts

 Collectibles (with an emphasis on the elusive oddballs)

 Decorating and How-To Home Design

 Graphic Novels

 Hispanic

 Homeschooling

 Juvenile

 Practical Gay and Lesbian Studies

 Practical Parenting (from primary to teen)

 Young Adult


Unique Books

5010 Kemper Ave.

St. Louis, MO 63139

Phone: 800-533-5446


Direct Orders from Libraries

While most library orders go through wholesalers or distributors, roughly 20 to 25 percent of books are ordered directly from publishers. Usually, libraries send a purchase order and expect to be billed. Publishers need a way to generate invoices and track payments. Libraries are pretty good about paying, but collections issues can occur.

It’s not necessary to offer a discount to libraries who order books directly from you, but you might consider giving them a 10 to 20 percent discount on multiple copy orders. Or, you can offer a discount as an incentive for libraries to order directly from you, rather than through a reseller.

Libraries expect to pay shipping charges. Be sure to charge enough to cover postage and the cost of the packing materials. Libraries don’t expect superfast delivery, so Media Mail is an economical choice, but it’s a good idea to get proof of delivery.

Public, school, university, and government libraries are generally exempt from paying sales tax. Technically, sellers are supposed to request a copy of the buyer’s tax exempt certificate, but many publishers don’t bother with this.

About the Author EmmaRight

Emma Right is a multiple award-winning and bestselling author and award-winning copywriter. When not busy caring for her homeschooled children and unschooled pets, she mentors wannabe authors to write and publish their first book, as well maximize their author business.

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