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Thread: [Printer] Avalon Innovations / AvalonTeam.com

  1. #1
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    [Printer] Avalon Innovations / AvalonTeam.com

    I have a questions and I hope no one minds me posting it here. Avalon Innovations has been a POD provider for several years now, but our primary market is the hobby gmes industry. We are partnered with Key 20 Games Distribution to provide our clients with warehousing, fulfillment services, distribution and on-line sales. But things work a little different in the hobby games segment. In that segment, the large distributors will not look at small publishing companies, they pretty much force you to use a consolidator. What a consolidator does is collects and stores products from various small presses, then the large distributors come to the consolidator to place their orders. Everything gets shipped together, saves on shipping costs, and allows the distributors to only deal with one place for all of these products.

    Print On Demand is a bit misleading because we do very little true POD work, most of it is really short run production. The consolidator like to keep a small number of the books in stock to fill orders, so a typical order for us is betweem 100 to 200 books.

    The biggest difference is that the individual writers/publishers are the ones that pay for the production of their own books. Then as the books sell through distribution or on-line sales, the get a check from Key 20 once a month.

    Would this type of business model work with the more main stream book trade?

    We keep looking at expanding our focus. The basic infrastructure is already in place and working and tested. We just need to add the additional distributors. We would in no way be a publisher, since we would not be approving or editing books, so I'm not sure if that would help or hurt.

    Thanks,

    Lance Williams
    Avalon Innovations
    www.AvalonTeam.com

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW LloydBrown's Avatar
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    Lance,

    I'm very familiar with the gaming industry, and I'd be happy to discuss this with you, but this deserves its own thread. Mods, please?
    Lloyd Brown
    www.lloydwrites.com


  3. #3
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    Smile

    Sorry, I was debating over starting a new thread or not. I guess I should have!

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    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    I'm thinking the niche you're looking to serve is mirco/small presses who have outgrown Lulu and the like, but aren't yet big enough to switch to offset.
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  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW LloydBrown's Avatar
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    So, let me make sure I understand this correctly: you would provide the role filled by fulfillment houses like Key 20 and Impressions, but you would provide it for the book trade instead of the RPG industry, right?
    Lloyd Brown
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  6. #6
    Now departed. Rest in peace, Scott, from all of us at AW Popeyesays's Avatar
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    If you're wanting to deal in books, I think it would bea great approach.

    saying that, though, there are certain realities. If you're going to sell to book distributors they want to buy at 55% discount, so they can sell to the bookstores at a 40% discount and keep the 15% to put in their pocket.

    SO, what kind of discount can your publishers afford to give YOU?

    Regards,
    Scott
    Okay, damnit, I blog http://cscottsaylorsbooks.blogspot.com/
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  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW LloydBrown's Avatar
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    Scott,

    There's also a cost associated with sales, fulfillment, billing, and warehousing. Many small publishers in the RPG industry continue to use a consolidator even after they're large enough to get the attention of distributors anyway, effectively outsourcing that section of their business to concentrate on the production end. When it's priced right, and the consolidator facilitates enough sales, the publisher isn't just giving up profits for no gain.

    The key problem to this type of business is that the publisher has to gain sales by the process, and that means that you need to be able to provide access to resellers. What would Avalon (or the new company, if that's what you're proposing) bring to the table to get that bookshelf space?
    Lloyd Brown
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  8. #8
    Now departed. Rest in peace, Scott, from all of us at AW Popeyesays's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LloydBrown View Post
    Scott,

    There's also a cost associated with sales, fulfillment, billing, and warehousing. Many small publishers in the RPG industry continue to use a consolidator even after they're large enough to get the attention of distributors anyway, effectively outsourcing that section of their business to concentrate on the production end. When it's priced right, and the consolidator facilitates enough sales, the publisher isn't just giving up profits for no gain.

    The key problem to this type of business is that the publisher has to gain sales by the process, and that means that you need to be able to provide access to resellers. What would Avalon (or the new company, if that's what you're proposing) bring to the table to get that bookshelf space?
    Absolutely, Lloyd. Those costs have to be covered by the business making sales to the distributors. If they are selling to the distributors at 55% discount, they're going to need to buy the books at a 65-70% discount.

    I'm not sure if the average small press can afforc to do that and keep the cover price realistic.

    I think the idea is great, but there's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.

    No publisher is going to deal with another layer of discounts if the discount to the new layer is so severe they are losing money per book sold.

    Regards,
    Scott
    Okay, damnit, I blog http://cscottsaylorsbooks.blogspot.com/
    Sword of the Dajjal e-book, Published by BooksForABuck.com May, 2007 ISBN: 978-1-602-052-2 http://www.booksforabuck.com/sfpages...rd_dajjal.html
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  9. #9
    Now departed. Rest in peace, Scott, from all of us at AW Popeyesays's Avatar
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    By the way, lloyd, I've been in miniature wargaming since about 1961 when I found a copy of Featherstone's book in the library--I was 13 at the time. Been an avid wargamer since, role-play games, too.

    I've done some game adjuncts that are available at The Virtual Armchair General site--it's a set of cardstock buildings for use in gangster, prohibition and pulp fiction games called Mean Streets.

    http://www.fauxtoys.com/tvag/610-Mea...Main-Page.html

    Ciao,

    Scott
    Okay, damnit, I blog http://cscottsaylorsbooks.blogspot.com/
    Sword of the Dajjal e-book, Published by BooksForABuck.com May, 2007 ISBN: 978-1-602-052-2 http://www.booksforabuck.com/sfpages...rd_dajjal.html
    Out in print early 2008 from Blu Phi'er
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  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW LloydBrown's Avatar
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    I'm not sure if the average small press can afforc to do that and keep the cover price realistic.
    That would be my point. In theory, the publisher's still spending x dollars per book. Whether they spend it incrementally--paying warehouse space for storage, paying a part-timer an hourly wage to handle sales, etc--or all at once in the form of an increased discount doesn't affect net profitability.

    Ideally.

    In a bad situation, the consolidator does one of two things wrong. He might charge too much for his services, preventing his clients from being able to afford to produce new books on a profitable schedule. Or, he might charge a reasonable percentage but fail to increase sales volume--or even fail to match the sales volume they might achieve on their own.

    In both cases, the publishers are better off keeping the work in-house.

    What Lance first needs to establish for his business model is how he's going to be able to provide that sales increase. He can't calculate a value and decide how much to charge for his services until there's a value to calculate. Does Avalon already have widespread bookstore coverage? Does its website support direct sales with an impressive conversion rate? Does it specialize in a certain genre or non-fiction category?

    In the RPG examples, the consolidators were publishers first (I believe in all cases), so the new clients just piggyback their product line on top of the consolidator's own products through existing distributor accounts. If Avalon doesn't currently have good relationships with book resellers of all channels, it offers potential clients nothing, and the value of its services is zero.

    Again, in the RPG example, Aldo Ghiozzi at Impressions has extensive marketing background. He provides a catalog for retailers, provides excellent sales reporting for his clients, and he doesn't accept just anything--it has to be something that, in his experience, has a market. Likewise, if Avalon's track record as a publisher is weak or inconsistent (and I don't know, I'm just talking this out), then it stands to reason that they don't have the judgment necessary to determine what products are marketable and which aren't. In that case, they would do a disservice to all of their clients.
    Lloyd Brown
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaoPaux View Post
    I'm thinking the niche you're looking to serve is mirco/small presses who have outgrown Lulu and the like, but aren't yet big enough to switch to offset.
    In the Hobby Game Industry, we actually replace Lulu.com for many of our clients. But you are correct that we do focus on runs not large enough for offset. I typical book run for us ranges from 100 to 200 books.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LloydBrown View Post
    So, let me make sure I understand this correctly: you would provide the role filled by fulfillment houses like Key 20 and Impressions, but you would provide it for the book trade instead of the RPG industry, right?
    No, we are partners with Key 20. We provide the printing and they provide the fulfillment type services. Our goal is to provide a turn key solution. From print, warehousing, fulfillment/distribution, on-line sales and even some convention support.

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    The Hobby Game Industry (HGI) Model

    OK, let's take a moment here and look at how thing typical work in the Hobby Game Industry.

    Most distributors will not deal with small publishers, unless they think your game is rally going to sell. Most of them will direct you to something known as a consolidator/fulfillment house, as Lloyd talks about above. What the consolidator/fulfillment house does is collect product from various small publishers and allows the large distributors to go to one source to order various items all at one and have them shipped together as well. Which saves the individual publisher money in the long run. The distributor gets one source and one bill.

    The distributors typically get around a 60% off MSRP discount. Which can vary depending on the payment arrangements with the consolidator/fulfillment house (i.e.: 55% net 30, 59.5% net 10 and 60.2% pre-paid).

    Then the consolidator/fulfillment house will take a portion for their services. Key 20 takes 15% and Impressions takes 18%. Now that does NOT add up to 75% or 78% off of MSRP. Let's say your book has a MSRP of $20. The distributors will want a $12 discount, or will purschase your book for $8. The consolidator/fulfillment house will take their percentage off of that amount. So, Key 20 would make $1.20 off of that book sale. This leaves you with $6.80 profit.

    Key 20 gives their clients up to 8 Cubic Feet of storage space in the warehouse free of charge. Anything above that is charged at $1.50 per Cubic Foot or $35 per pallet. I believe everyone else charges for all the storage.

    You also need to watch for pick and pack fees. Key 20 does not charge any pick and pack fees for it's members, but will charge $1.80 per unit for non-members. I do believe most others charge a fee for everyone, but do not qoute me on that.

    What's the difference between and member and a non-member? A non-member is someone that Key 20 does not represents to the main stream HGI distribution. Once in a while Key 20 does get a client that only wants them to handle shipping items out that they tell them to do.

    Key 20 also includes pack-ins for free for memebers, which us martketing materials sent to the distributors for their retailers. In others words, a package of sales sheets on your book that the distributor can send out.

    Key 20 currently distributes through:
    • Alliance Game Distributors
    • Diamond Comics
    • ACD Distribution
    • Centurion Hobby Distributors
    • Blackhawk Hobby Distributors
    • Global Games Distribution
    • Lion Rampant Distributors (Canada)
    • Esdevium Games LTD (UK)
    • Leisure Games LTD (UK)
    • Hobbygames LTD (UK)
    • Ulisses Spiele (Germany)
    Now why use a consolidator/fulfillment house? In the HGI, many retailers do not want to call 50 different places to order their products. They would rather have a few main distributors and that's it. Now, there is always exceptions to that rule. They can also give you increased representations, an additional on-line store front, represenation at various conventions and trade shows, and group advertising rates.

    Now to my first point, is how to make the leap from the HGI to main stream book trade? Our first reason to want to do this is to be able to give our existing clients more retailers to sell their product. But we are are intersted in expanding what industries we represent. We understand the main stream book trade is a completely different creature, but we have the needed structure in place and have a history in the HGI. Now we need to build the new contacts with the distributors here.

    But also, will small publishers and authors be interested in an arrangement like we deal in the HGI?

  14. #14
    Now departed. Rest in peace, Scott, from all of us at AW Popeyesays's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AvalonTeam View Post
    OK, let's take a moment here and look at how thing typical work in the Hobby Game Industry.

    Most distributors will not deal with small publishers, unless they think your game is rally going to sell. Most of them will direct you to something known as a consolidator/fulfillment house, as Lloyd talks about above. What the consolidator/fulfillment house does is collect product from various small publishers and allows the large distributors to go to one source to order various items all at one and have them shipped together as well. Which saves the individual publisher money in the long run. The distributor gets one source and one bill.

    The distributors typically get around a 60% off MSRP discount. Which can vary depending on the payment arrangements with the consolidator/fulfillment house (i.e.: 55% net 30, 59.5% net 10 and 60.2% pre-paid).

    Then the consolidator/fulfillment house will take a portion for their services. Key 20 takes 15% and Impressions takes 18%. Now that does NOT add up to 75% or 78% off of MSRP. Let's say your book has a MSRP of $20. The distributors will want a $12 discount, or will purschase your book for $8. The consolidator/fulfillment house will take their percentage off of that amount. So, Key 20 would make $1.20 off of that book sale. This leaves you with $6.80 profit.

    Key 20 gives their clients up to 8 Cubic Feet of storage space in the warehouse free of charge. Anything above that is charged at $1.50 per Cubic Foot or $35 per pallet. I believe everyone else charges for all the storage.

    You also need to watch for pick and pack fees. Key 20 does not charge any pick and pack fees for it's members, but will charge $1.80 per unit for non-members. I do believe most others charge a fee for everyone, but do not qoute me on that.

    What's the difference between and member and a non-member? A non-member is someone that Key 20 does not represents to the main stream HGI distribution. Once in a while Key 20 does get a client that only wants them to handle shipping items out that they tell them to do.

    Key 20 also includes pack-ins for free for memebers, which us martketing materials sent to the distributors for their retailers. In others words, a package of sales sheets on your book that the distributor can send out.

    Key 20 currently distributes through:
    • Alliance Game Distributors
    • Diamond Comics
    • ACD Distribution
    • Centurion Hobby Distributors
    • Blackhawk Hobby Distributors
    • Global Games Distribution
    • Lion Rampant Distributors (Canada)
    • Esdevium Games LTD (UK)
    • Leisure Games LTD (UK)
    • Hobbygames LTD (UK)
    • Ulisses Spiele (Germany)
    Now why use a consolidator/fulfillment house? In the HGI, many retailers do not want to call 50 different places to order their products. They would rather have a few main distributors and that's it. Now, there is always exceptions to that rule. They can also give you increased representations, an additional on-line store front, represenation at various conventions and trade shows, and group advertising rates.

    Now to my first point, is how to make the leap from the HGI to main stream book trade? Our first reason to want to do this is to be able to give our existing clients more retailers to sell their product. But we are are intersted in expanding what industries we represent. We understand the main stream book trade is a completely different creature, but we have the needed structure in place and have a history in the HGI. Now we need to build the new contacts with the distributors here.

    But also, will small publishers and authors be interested in an arrangement like we deal in the HGI?
    The only questionworth bothering with is the bottom line, can they produce the book cheaply enough to meet your fulfillment costs?

    Assuming you canprint the book for $5.00 and the market demands acover price of no more than $15.00, selling the book to a fulfillment service at $6.00 looks pretty scant to me.

    Regards,
    Scott
    Okay, damnit, I blog http://cscottsaylorsbooks.blogspot.com/
    Sword of the Dajjal e-book, Published by BooksForABuck.com May, 2007 ISBN: 978-1-602-052-2 http://www.booksforabuck.com/sfpages...rd_dajjal.html
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  15. #15
    What you are describing in the original post is a vanity press. The question would be: What could you provide that isn't provided by other vanity presses that require either a setup fee or a mandatory number of books purchased?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Havlen View Post
    What you are describing in the original post is a vanity press. The question would be: What could you provide that isn't provided by other vanity presses that require either a setup fee or a mandatory number of books purchased?
    That is one of our advantages, we have no minimum orders (well none with paperbacks, there is a 30 book min for hardcovers), we charge no set-up fees. We do require two proof copies be produced before a production run of a book starts. One proof goes to you for approval and one stays with us for reference.

    To cover Popeyesays cost concerns, it depends on the size of the book. We do charge a slightly lower price for the smaller format books ($0.016 per B&W page instead of $0.018 per B&W page for 8.5 x 11 books). So, a 150 page 6 x 9 book would require an invest of $3.80 per book.

    The whole vanity press issue does concern me for the main stream book trade. In the gaming industry, we really do not have that concern as a consolidator. The distributors look at the individual publishers. But will the main stream book trade have the same view?

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    The King and Queen of Cheese BenPanced's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AvalonTeam View Post
    The whole vanity press issue does concern me for the main stream book trade. In the gaming industry, we really do not have that concern as a consolidator. The distributors look at the individual publishers. But will the main stream book trade have the same view?
    If you're looked upon as a vanity press, you may have difficulty getting a distributor and if you can't get one, it'll be hard getting your products into mainstream stores. If you can't get a mainstream distributor, you may not be able to offer the discount and returns policies many stores require to get your product in the door.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AvalonTeam View Post

    But will the main stream book trade have the same view?
    No.
    Yog's Law. "Money flows toward the writer." A frequently cited corollary is: "The only place an author should sign a check is on the back, when they endorse it."

    The basis of commercial publishing is that the writer writes and the publisher publishes, distributes, and handles sales.

    Gamers are a different breed. The good news is that if you find a way to make it profitable to commercially publish using the POD technology and offer the distribution necessary to make the book moderately successful, you will open a wide variety of publishing opportunities to niche markets not large enough to make the print runs.
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  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW LloydBrown's Avatar
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    Avalon's suggestion doesn't violate Yog's Law in any way. In fact, it doesn't have anything to do with any author. A publisher selling only public domain reprints could use his services.

    In fact, there are wholesales that do most (if not all) of what Avalon's suggestion. I wanted to see how far the speculation went before I brought it up.

    And, one more time--the consolidation services don't necessarily cost the publisher any more. So the question of "can they afford it?" is as meaningless as "which side of the road do they live on?"
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by LloydBrown View Post
    Avalon's suggestion doesn't violate Yog's Law in any way. In fact, it doesn't have anything to do with any author. A publisher selling only public domain reprints could use his services.
    Perhaps I don't understand what they are looking to offer...


    The way I understand it is that an author or small publisher would send them their books, say 100 or so. They would market them and distribute them to the larger distributors.

    Now, if the small publisher did this, they would be standing between Ingrams and the publisher?

    If they offer the POD service, what they are offering is what Ingrams now offers?

    Or are they saying that they will print the book, market the book and sell the book, regardless of who the originator is?

    Or am I so confused that I need to go back and start over?

    It still feels like the author is offered a service where there is an opportunity to have their books dine for a fee and distributed to the internet. Small publishers could be included.

    If that is the case, it is simply a new packaging of what others are doing.
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  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW LloydBrown's Avatar
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    Now, if the small publisher did this, they would be standing between Ingrams and the publisher?
    Now I think you're getting it--at least as I understand it. Regardless of the specific services offered to the publisher, this isn't an offer for writers.

    Right?
    Lloyd Brown
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  22. #22
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    [Printer] Avalon Innovations

    Hi,

    Apologies for thread hijack.

    I'm in the position of dealing with Avalon Innovations and it's a frankly terrible experience. I googl'd Avalon Innovations in the slight hope that it had some presence on other sites

    This one was one such place. I submitted an order to print books, paid for them and communication was slow but steady. Since then I've waited a few months with no reply to any communications and obviously I'm furious that I've been shafted in this fashion. No books, out of pocket and vile taste in my mouth.

    I'd highly reccomend to anyone considering dealing with Lance Williams and Avalon Innovations, not to. (AvalonTeam on this thread)

    More information is available at http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=375109 as mine is by no means an isolated case.
    Last edited by Matt_NuMediaJunk; 04-30-2008 at 04:00 PM. Reason: Link to AvalonTeam

  23. #23
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Sounds like their restructuring failed; very sorry to hear folks were caught in it. I hope you get some resolution soon.
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  24. #24
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    "New" website's still there (http://www.avalonteam.com/intro.html), but complaints across the web indicate the company closed, leaving customers without the product they paid for.
    ICAO
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