Books-a-Million Partners with FastPencil 2.0 and Adds Book Placement Service


In a moment of Déjà vu this week I had to remind myself of a news piece TIPM ran in 2015. Books-a-Million partnering with self-publishing service provider FastPencil sounded a bit ‘old school’ and I had to dig deep into the TIPM news files to unearth our 2015 story. So, back then, under the ownership of Courier Corporation, a large US book manufacturer, Books-a-Million partnered with FastPencil to provide a self-publishing platform called BAM! Publishing. Soon after former this owner and founder Steve Wilson bought FastPencil back from Courier.

My moment of Déjà vu turned out to be formal relaunch of BAM! Publishing announced here and a new name for the self-publishing platform – BAM! Publish. Wow, not just publishing, but PUBLISH! Serious stuff. An ‘ing’ in business can make a lot of difference. Those three letters have been vanquished and left on the table of some marketing executive’s desk never to be seen again.

Essentially BAM! Publish is a marketplace for all manner of publishing services from editing, design, print, distribution, and now the added potential for bookstore placement in Books-a-Million’s 260 stores. However, it comes with some requirements and a financial investment which may be beyond the budget or choice of the 2016 self-published author.

  1. You purchase one of our Premium Services Packages, or 1,000 print books
  2. When you’re ready, submit a copy of your book and purchase confirmation to your Books-A-Million contact
  3. Books-A-Million reviews your book for relevance and appearance
  4. Upon approval, Books-A-Million specifies local and/or other stores to stock your book, the on-shelf availability time period, and quantities required for each location
  5. You fund book publishing and shipping to approved locations
  6. If your book sells out, BAM will re-order/additional inventory at its option
  7. Unsold copies are returned to you at Books-A-Million expense after shelf-life expires
  8. Books sales and royalty payments are reported in your online workspace dashboard

While you can choose a free publish plan with BAM! Publish (via FastPencil), this excludes distribution to retailers Distribution will actually cost between $279–$329. Author receive an 80/20 split on net royalties on book sales, though I really do wish self-publishing platforms would stop referring to author revenues as ‘royalties’ as if these platforms were traditional publishers. I have already reviewed FastPencil and one of my takeouts still remains; print costs are general higher with FastPencil ($7 plus 3 cents per page) than platforms like CreateSpace and IngramSpark offer.

Perhaps the critical note for authors looking at the BAM! Publish platform is that authors must meet the requirements above and their book will still have to be reviewed and approved by Books-a-Million buyers, just as any head buyer decides which published titles to stock in their chain of stores. I’ve always argued that book placement can be significant for an author, but only if it goes hand-in-hand with a professional marketing plan built locally and from the ground up.

Ultimately, authors need to be cautious when working with any self-publishing service provider that even suggests, hints, guarantees or promises book placement on shelves (let alone for a fee). Not even an independent, small, medium or large publishing house with established and dedicated sales distribution networks can guarantee that.

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