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5 Myths about Working with Publisher Reps

We've all been there. The sales person that would not take the hint. The pitch that wouldn't end. Just recently, I got roped into a vacuum demonstration by a friend. Oh, the sharp bite of betrayal! And too often, that's also what meeting with a publisher rep sounds like: a door-to-door salesman peddling questionable merchandise to a captive audience for a quick buck.

So, we'd like to debunk some of those myths and address some of those misconceptions.

Myth #1: Pub Reps Are Aggressive Salespeople

Some of this comes from simply not understanding what a publisher rep is (it's not exactly something they cover in library school), so here it goes:

A lot of publishers don't hire a sales staff, so they commission the work out to representatives. The publisher's representative is a direct link between you and the publisher. This means that we have access to deals and incentives that distributors do not have. We have access to a lot of information, actually, and we love to share it.

The majority of reps I've met don't even have a background in sales. A lot of us started out as teachers or librarians who wanted out of the school or library but didn't want to leave the industry. As a result, we're not usually the stereotypical salespeople. Usually, we're far more interested in the distribution of information. We're here to tell you what's new, what's hot, what the trends are, and how to get you there too.

Myth #2: Pub Reps Don't Save You Any Time or Money

This is a big one. There's this misconception out there that ordering directly from publishers is a hassle. Most reps sell for more than one publisher, so odds are we offer all that you're looking for, but usually this means a different transaction for each publisher, leading to a reputation of pub reps being difficult and cumbersome. In reality, though, we can work around this or any other problem you need us to. Our goal is to make things as easy as possible for you.

We'll even do your homework for you, if you'd like. If you need space books for 4th-5th graders, we can send you a quoted list of books that meet that description. We're happy to meet with you as often as you need us to in order to make a selection or brainstorm creative new ways to incorporate eBooks, makerspaces, or whatever into your collection.

We also work to get you all the best deals. One of the best parts about working directly with the publishers are the specials they put out with every season: free books, gift cards, devices, free shipping, free processing - the list goes on and on.

And, we can even make suggestions to the publishers based on what you're looking for. Since we work directly with the publishers, we can take your needs and requests straight to the source. Basically, because we have the publisher's ear, YOU have the publisher's ear. Your needs can be heard.

Myth #3: Meeting with a Pub Rep Takes FOREVER

This one is plain and simple: reps will meet with you for as long or as short a period of time as you want.

Gone are the days when you had to block out an entire afternoon just to hear all the new collections that have come to town. If you still want that, we're happy to oblige, but if all you want is for us to drop off catalogs, we can do that too. And if you tell us what you need ahead of time, we'll only show you the books you're actually looking for.

Sometimes we'll drop in to say "hi". If you want to talk to us then, great! If not, no worries. We're just a call away when you do want to meet with us.

Myth #4: Pub Reps Expect You to Make a Purchase after Meeting with You

We don't.

Take the catalogs, mull it over, figure out where the priorities in your book budget lie. We're not going to tell you what to buy or when to buy it. We consider it part of our job to help you narrow down the possibilities and to provide suggestions based on your preferences, but where and when and how you use that information is up to you. You are under absolutely no pressure to fill out an order form right then and there.

More often than not, we bring the publisher catalogs with us to meet with you and as we go through them and show you the samples, librarians will mark the catalog pages with the books they like. At the end of the meeting, we take those catalogs back with us, write your choices up into a print-friendly quote. From there, you can decide if you want those books, some of those books, more books, or none of those books. You can also go onto most of our publishers' websites, make up a cart, and send the cart to us, and we'll draft you a quote from that.

There are a million and one ways to order books through a publisher rep, but none of them involve being strong-armed into a purchase you didn't want to make.

Myth #5: Pub Reps Abandon You As Soon As They Have Your Money

Let's say you order some books from us. That's it, right? We disappear into the night, scuttling off to find new prey, gone until we need to feed on your book budget again. What if you have a problem? What if you have questions?

Panic not, dear friend. This is one of those (many) moments where being the in-between to you and the publisher works in your favor. We are advocates for the publishers, bringing their products down from the various houses to you, but we are also advocates for you, taking your concerns back to the publishers. If for any reason, your order is unsatisfactory, we'll take care of it. We make sure that you get exactly what you ordered.

Not only that, but as I mentioned before, we are a powerful consulting tool for you. If you just got a whole bunch of eBooks, but you don't really know how to get kids to read them, we can offer different ways to advertise them and get those books (digitally) into kids hands. If you're a media specialist and teachers are asking how to utilize their class reading through Moodle, we've got your back. In this sense, we're the librarian's librarian. Just ask, and we'll get you the answer.

If there's anything I missed or anything you have a question about, please don't hesitate to contact us. We're here to help!

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