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What's Your 'Why Power'?

The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) defines 'Why Power' as what connects you to the work you do in an integral and authentic way, and they explore this dynamic idea with thought-leaders across the publishing landscape. Accordingly, the IBPA's Executive Director sat down with BBPG's Tom Reale to discover what informs and motivates his leadership; find out how he found his "why" with a little help from America's Founding Fathers.

I found my publishing "why" nearly 25 years ago, on a Sunday. At the time I was a first-time manager, putting in weekend hours for a major New York-based publishing house. We were creating methods to reuse content from our higher education products, parsing and republishing text using then experimental techniques in electronic tagging, rights tracking, and automated formatting pagination. As I set the system to process batches of content from our textbooks, I found myself with time to think in between tasks, and my mind wandered to a question as I considered what I was doing there that day: what IS publishing?

Throughout my professional career, I have been a proponent of the idea that publishing was not an activity reserved to output of ink on paper, glue, and board or cardstock. In and after college, I had been a journalist, racking up more than 200 bylines by the time I moved to New York to work in publishing production and operations. And while I did have a sense of what publishing was not limited to, I was still hard-pressed to define our industry: its precepts and its most basic outcomes. So, I got up from my desk and rummaged the office for a copy of the document I considered to be my most viable starting pointthe Constitution of the United States of America . . . READ THE FULL INTERVIEW @ IBPA-Online.org

ASK A PUBLISHER: 14 Ways Distribution Will Make or Break Your Book

We're committed to equipping authors for success by sharing critical tools, expertise, and advice. That's why our COO Tom Reale is revealing insider insights on book distribution; find out how to avoid hidden risks—and maximize rewards—by partnering with the right publisher and distributor.

Not long ago, the American publishing industry was starkly divided between the “Haves” and the “Have-nots.” Authors either were represented by a royalty publisher with access to major wholesalers and retailers in 36,000-plus national locations—or they were sentenced to door-to-door distribution that literally required them to sell books out of their car or home. Those lucky enough to be selected by a royalty house faced their own serious challenges including:

Recently, online retailers have driven some disruption in this space. Self-publishing services with eBook and print-on-demand capabilities are providing authors with (limited) access to major consumer channels at a very cheap entry point. But rather than fulfilling on the promise of a true, open book market, this route is more like having a publishing parent who decides to start giving you an allowance of $5 per week, and it comes with a slew of problems such as:

Twenty-six years ago, our founder, Milli Brown, had an epiphany. Standing in a bookstore and holding a novel, she wondered whether the average patron cared about who made money when they bought a book. She thought about it and had to honestly answer, “No.” Then she wondered whether the other customers nearby could rattle off the names of the major New York publishers, and whether they even knew which company had published the book they just bought. Again she answered herself, “Probably not.” After all, how many people have heard of Avery, Perigee, Del Rey, or Flirt, or know that they are all part of Random House?

So why couldn’t there be a professional publishing company, with all of the capabilities and reach of a royalty publisher, that delivered the major economic benefit of book sales to the person who deserves it most: the author? There would be challenges to driving this thought process uphill against an industry infrastructure severely biased toward a royalty model. But Milli had two major advantages on her side of the struggle to come: Texan stubbornness, and no national publishing bias.


To build BBPG, Milli and her team methodically added one capability after another, in each case snapping into place another piece of the puzzle needed to create a completely unique, top-flight national publisher. Each step of the journey was met with skepticism from the various gatekeepers in the book trade. In each case, through leadership, innovation, and perseverance, Brown found a way to offer more to individual authors than had ever been offered in the past.

Today at BBPG, our model is simple. We focus on four key pillars to provide: