Home » Books Blog » Book Industry News & Events » A New Way to Sell More Books: Special sales defined and a look at the association dedicated to it

As a guest contributor to the Sheridan blog, Brian Jud, Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales, regularly shares his observations and learnings on the topic of book marketing and special sales.  This post takes a closer look at what exactly “special sales” are and the association dedicated to helping author and publishers reach this market.

There are hundreds of thousands of new titles published every year, and the competition for bookstore shelf space is intense. Now there is an enormous opportunity for independent publishers to increase their sales, revenue and profits by selling their books to special-sales buyers.

The question that usually comes to mind is, “What are special sales?” This term is commonly used to describe sales opportunities outside of bookstores. Also referred to as non-bookstore (or non-traditional) marketing, it can build a profitable revenue stream.

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 just as you do through bookstores. Included are airport stores, discount stores, supermarkets and specialty retailers.

The other segment is comprised of direct sales to non-retail organizations that use books as marketing tools such as premiums, ad specialties and as a gift with a purchase. Examples are sales to buyers in corporations, associations, schools, the military and government agencies.

Although the market for special sales is larger than the trade opportunity ($16 billion vs. $14 billion), many publishers do not exploit it. It was to help them reach this market that I started The Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS). This is the only source of information and help for publishers to generate sales to and through non-bookstore buyers.

I did not have to start from scratch to make that happen. You may have heard of SPAN, The Small Publishers Association of North America. I became its Executive Director in January 2013. I made some major changes, not the least of which was changing the name and direction of the association. On June 1, 2013 SPAN was formally changed to APSS.

With the help of Scott Flora (Executive Director of SPAN) and a new Board of Directors we built APSS into a dynamic, strong organization with over 4000 members, affiliates and partner organizations.

Several surveys of members pointed to a desire for local access. In response, we organized a network of local APSS chapter to give members the combined benefits of a national organization with local meetings. APSS Chapters are currently operating in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Connecticut, Grand Rapids, Maine, Mid-Atlantic, Nashville, Nebraska, New Jersey, Orange County, Phoenix, Santa Clarita, Santa Fe, Sarasota, Southeast Texas and Washington State. We have others planned in several major US cities. We also have two international chapters in Nigeria and Toronto.

In each of our first two years, APSS held an annual book-selling university. Now we hold one-day annual events at each of the chapter locations. Our next Book Selling Universities are on September 13 in New Jersey and on October 1 in Santa Clarita, California.

Our mission is to become the respected brand-name entity that provides high quality, functional and innovative sales and marketing resources that enhance content producers’ efforts to grow their businesses profitably. As an APSS member, you will find new and better ways to increase your sales in large, non-returnable quantities to special-sales buyers.


Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales and author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books and Beyond the Bookstore.