If you’ve never heard the name John Ingram, you will be surprised to learn that his family has been instrumental in transforming the publishing industry. In “A Conversation with John Ingram” at Publishers Weekly’s U. S. Book Show, you learn that Ingram played an important role during the recent pandemic in keeping books available while supply chains were disrupted. Years ago, Ingram Books started Lightning Source, a digital printer and wholesaler, which was instrumental in transforming the world of publishing into print on demand or POD. What that means is that books are printed and distributed as needed rather than sitting in a warehouse waiting for orders. Now this concept was totally transformational in the publishing business, where traditional publishers, as they still do, print thousands of books at a time, store them in a warehouse, and send them to bookstores when orders are received. Of course, the pandemic changed all of that. As John Ingram would say, Lightning Source’s motto is, or rather became, “Just in time, just in case.”
In June of 2020, 50% of the books on the New York Times bestseller list were provided, either printed and/or distributed, by Ingram’s Lightning Source. While that percentage will change as we return to “normal,” you cannot help but wonder if this lesson will not be lost by the industry as a whole. Would you want to risk printing of your content and your ability to distribute that content without the backup Ingram Content Group offers publishers?
So, what led to Ingram’s success. John Ingram summed up his business philosophy like this: “I want to do well by helping others do well.”
If you want to learn more about this success story, buy the book. You won’t regret it.
About the Interview:
Jim Milliot, V-P and Editorial Director, Publishers Weekly, sat down with John Ingram, chairman of Ingram Content Group, and Keel Hunt, author of The Family Business: How Ingram Transformed the World of Books (West Margin Press), for a discussion about how the company has managed to remain one of publishing’s most important players and what is ahead for the industry.