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National distribution with both wholesalers and retailers including airport and specialty outlets. | Distribution

Historically, the strongest barrier between independent authors and big sales has been bookstore distribution. This divide has become even more expansive over the past decade as a result of dramatic consolidation in the book industry. Unlike most publishing resources for independent authors, Greenleaf Book Group is an established national book distributor.

Greenleaf Book Group's distribution model is revolutionary in the industry, finally offering a viable alternative for independent authors and small presses. The foundation of our model is:

  • Selective acceptance of new clients: Greenleaf Book Group is known for representing the best in small and independent publishing. We take great care to execute the most effective distribution strategy for each book we select for publication and distribution.
  • Responsive interaction with our clients: Like all partnerships, the success of publisher-author and distributor-publisher relationships depends on a clear, freeflowing communication model. At Greenleaf, we work closely with our clients, setting up open, positive, interactive relationships from the beginning and then following through with regular correspondence.
  • A sales-focused marketing division that works directly with the bookstore distribution team: Greenleaf ’s marketing programs are the first of their kind in the book industry. We concentrate on sales and link distribution with consumer marketing efforts, such as publicity, to place books on bookstore shelves in the geographic markets where demand exists. Our distribution team ties everything together with inventory management and negotiations with buyers at national wholesale and retail outlets.
  • Progressive agreements and distribution terms: We believe independent authors and small presses need partnerships that support their growth, rather than ones that strip them of all power. The standard distribution model allows for little movement within the system, but at Greenleaf, we give the power back to our clients and foster partnerships based on expansion and freedom. We offer
  • Flexible agreements: We encourage our clients to establish a solid customer base and industry network. This is an imperative part of building a publishing career and one way we support the growth of our clients. While Greenleaf sells to the customary trade channels, our clients may handle sales to their direct markets.
  • No minimum commitments: The standard book distribution model typically demands a one-year minimum term of exclusive rights for distribution to bookstores and book wholesalers. This means authors and publishers have to assume the heavy risk of being trapped in an unproductive distribution contract during the most important period of their book launch. In contrast, Greenleaf ’s partnerships are founded on—and sustained by—mutual benefit rather than restrictive legal agreements.


Fulfilling all compliance requirements for a printed, saleable book is time-consuming and complicated, so Greenleaf offers a single package that includes all the major elements, ensuring that no detail stands in the way of your success. Following are the primary compliance elements.


There are a few different methods commonly employed to determine a cover price, but we suggest considering the prices of books that compete with yours. Take a sample of ten to twenty-five books in your genre with similar specifications (page count, trim size, etc.) and by authors with similar platforms to yours. Identify the most common price point. That is likely an appropriate price point for your book.

Many independent authors and small publishers base cover price on production costs. Greenleaf advises against this because, though your margins need to make sense, a price that is not competitive will present obstacles: major bookstore chains often refuse to buy overpriced books, and they routinely commit to smaller buys if the cover price is high. If your production costs are too high to turn a healthy profit with a competitive cover price, you should explore ways to lower your per-unit production costs before increasing your cover price.

Another note on pricing: We often hear publishers justify an overpriced book with the “perceived value” argument. Though that justification may be applicable to other industries, the book trade is working with an oversupply and underdemand for its products and therefore cannot support overpriced items.

ISBN and EAN Barcode

The most important compliance item is the International Standard Book Number, or ISBN. This number gives your book a universal numerical identifier—sort of a Social Security number for your book. It allows bookstores, media, publishers, and consumers to order, identify, and refer to your specific book. In fact, almost all major ordering systems use only the ISBN.

Every thirteen-digit ISBN code contains five sets of numbers, separated by dashes. The first section is the prefix for books. The next section is one digit and describes the language of the book; a 0 or 1 means the book is published in English. The third series describes the publisher and is usually six or seven digits long. The fourth set is the publication number. The final digit is a check digit, which can be 0–9 or X. Using an automatic algorithmic calculation, the final digit acts as a check to make sure the entire ISBN code is correct.

The EAN barcode is generated by using the price and the ISBN, all translated into a scanner-readable format. The EAN (European Article Numbering) barcode on books is different from the usual UPC (Universal Product Code) barcode. Although some books have both the UPC and EAN, most bookstores require—and prefer—only an EAN barcode. The price is shown as a five-digit sequence on the right side of the barcode. The first number is usually a 5, indicating U.S. dollars; the next four digits represent the price in terms of the number of cents. So a book that costs $29.95 U.S. will have 52995 on the right side of the barcode. If you choose not to list a price on the barcode, it will read 90000.

Cataloging Information

The Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) is a unique identification number assigned by the Library of Congress to the catalog record created for the book. Librarians use it to locate specific catalog records and to order catalog cards for the book. Greenleaf requests an LCCN prior to publication so that it can be included on the copyright page as part of the Cataloging in Publication Data.

The Cataloging in Publication Data is included on the copyright page of a book to provide guidance to libraries as to how to shelve the book and what information to include on the catalog card. Greenleaf works with the Library of Congress and other organizations to have CIP data prepared.

In addition to these items, we also work with organizations to provide book metadata. This primarily pertains to children’s books and describes the reading level.


The official copyright process using government Form CO cannot be completed until you have a finished copy of your book. As part of the compliance package, Greenleaf handles the forms and fees when the finished book comes off press.

Bowker’s Books In Print is the book industry’s largest bibliographic database. Registration with this outlet makes your title’s product details and ordering information accessible to bookstores and publishers nationwide.

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