Issue 3   January 27, 2009
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[POST LETTER]
Industry Interview
Jeff Press, World Publications

1        Well, this year is your 25th anniversary. Tell us how World Publications got started- Your father was in the book business and passed it on to you and Mitch. Is your family in the business as well? Yes- all three of my children, Samantha, Melissa and Michael work at the company, and the family dog, Jesse! In the early 1980s, Mitch and I liquidated my fathers business when he passed away. I went back to an executive position at Colgate Palmolive. Mitch returned to Montana as a county planning director. We kept a small quantity of books in my garage and started a small business featuring Gail Press baking chocolate chip cookies for the customers!

 

2        Having always had a warehouse in the Northeast. How large is your warehouse? How many total employees do you have working there? Our warehouse is currently more than a quarter of a million square feet and we have 61 employees, some of whom have been with us for almost two decades!

 

 

3        You have two show rooms, one in New York and one in the 230 5th Ave building in NYC. Are the show rooms still a large part of your business? We also have a showroom on the West Coast in Bellingham, WA.  All three are significant parts of our business. With fewer bookstores over the years, N.Y.C. is probably seeing less activity than in the past. Our Boston, MA showroom is massive and attracts many visitors.

 

4        You recently made some big changes (a new COO and NY manager). Can you elaborate on some of the changes you made and how you hope this will affect your future business? It’s tougher than ever to do business and do it right. You’re only as good as your people- and our people are dedicated! Lori Horak our new NYC manager brings 20 years of experience with Sterling, Watson Guptill, and Abbeville. She knows her books and knows publishing; Jason Chudnofsky, our new Chief Operating Officer, brings a wide wealth of business, trade show experience, as well as marketing and sales experience to our team. 2009 and beyond are going to be tough and we want to be as good an organization as we can be.

 

5        You also have a line of books that you publish. Tell us about it- Yes, our imprints are JG Press and Signature Press which Gail heads up. Currently, we publish around 50 titles a year and have hundreds on our backlist. We mainly decide what to print by examining what gaps there are in our market that we can fill.

 

6        Jeff, you guys do a lot of shows, how many a year do you attend? We are attending 10 shows this year, everything from the closeout shows, toy shows, to BEA and Cirobe.

 

7        Are your international sales increasing/ decreasing? Are international sales important to the mix? International sales are quite dependent on the titles we have as well as exchange rates, economic conditions etc. This year they could be down.

 

8        Do you still sell to a lot of small mom and pop stores? Sure- in many ways they are just as important as bigger volume chains! It helps that we set realistic prices and title minimums- That way it doesn’t scare off some of our customers.

 

9        Are most of your books coming from bids and hurts? How many titles do you carry at a given time? We have books coming from everywhere! Right now we have around 10,000 unique titles, and that’s not counting all of the titles featured on our sorting website, www.worldsorts.com.

 

10    What still works well- children’s, inspirational, sci-fi novels? Sci-Fi has been off and on other than the biggest authors. Children’s and Inspirational is always good with the right books, as are cookbooks.

 

11    What is the largest quantity of books that you have bid and won? When Random House wanted out of the promotional book business – we got 4 million books!

 

12    Do you ever mess with non-book items like side line sales? If so, what? Yes, we sell stationary, toys, and other occasional closeouts.

 

13    You cannot have been in business for 25 years without having some kind of over riding business philosophy. What is yours? Tell the truth! Plenty of business means plenty of problems. Even with the best intentions lots of things are going to go wrong. You don’t need to complicate things with stories and lies. One thing my wife has always said, “Without good relationships in this business, you have nothing”.

 

14    All right, I know you are a history buff- Who’s your favorite history author? Doris Kearns Goodwin – anything she writes is great. Also she’s a big Red Sox fan!

 

15    What are you reading right now? Dreams From my Father- Barack Obama, and Hour I first believed- Wally Lamb.

 

Congratulations on 25 years in the industry!

 


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