The term special sales is commonly used to describe sales opportunities outside of bookstores. Also referred to as non-bookstore (or non-traditional) marketing, it can be a profitable source of new revenue.
The best way to exploit this opportunity is to divide it into two segments and sell to buyers in each according to their traditional ways of purchasing. One is the retail segment where you reach buyers using a network of middlemen. The other segment is comprised of direct sales to non-retailers that use books as marketing tools to sell more of their products or help their employees, members or students.
1) Selling to retailers. You are already familiar with this sector. You find distributors or wholesalers to get your books into retail outlets where they are sold off the shelf to consumers. Payments are made in two or three months and unsold books are returned. Retailers display products that 1) will build store traffic, 2) maximize profitability per square foot and 3) generate more inventory turns. Prove that your title can do those things better than competitors’ titles and you can get your books on retailers’ shelves. Examples are discount stores and warehouse clubs, airport stores, supermarkets and pharmacies, museums, zoos and national parks, gift shops and specialty stores
2. Non-retail sales. Corporations, associations, foundations, government agencies and the armed services buy books directly from publishers for use as premiums, incentives, sales promotions, for educational purposes, and sometimes for resale. The factor differentiating this segment from the retail sector is that you sell directly to buyers in these organizations. Sales are typically made in large quantities, returns are rare and payment is received more quickly.
Special-sales marketing is not a separate way of doing business. It is not even a new way of doing business. It is an integral part of overall marketing strategy. Simply divide non-bookstore marketing into its two component parts and you may find hundreds, if not thousands of prospective customers for your books.