February 09, 2021
- By Duncan McCallum, (Sales) Spectrum Books
Friesens has seventeen sales offices across Canada and the United States, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Each of these territories are unique and interesting, not only in the areas they cover, but also in the customers we serve and the different sales personalities that service them. In the western U.S., rather than take a cab or Uber around town to visit customers like you might do in New York city or Toronto, we have more geography to cover, and we usually fly to each city we visit which can take a bit of time and planning.
There was a time when customer service representatives from the plant visited our territory, and we’d call on as many customers as possible for the week that they were here. I did this a number of times with Cameron Fay, Tiffany Blanchard, Ralph Hamm, and more recently, with Friesens’ Sales Manager Doug Symington. The map gives you an idea of how the week develops, often starting with meeting the plant representative in Seattle, then working our way down the coast, and eventually ending up in Salt Lake City on Friday to close the week. There were times when we’d reverse this pattern, or add Portland, depending on who was available for a visit and when.
What would we find in these various locations? Therein lies the true beauty of the sales game. Each regional area is varied and unique, and always interesting. In Seattle, there’s a lot of publishing with regional themes, including Sasquatch Books (topics especially of interest to the Pacific Northwest), University of Washington Press (including co-pubs with Douglas & McIntyre), Mountaineers Books (mountain climbing), Wave Publishing (poetry including a Nobel Prize winning title printed by Friesens!), Becker and Mayer (trade books and packaging, a subsidiary of Chronicle Books), Compendium (gift books and journals), and the publishing arm of Amazon to name a few.
San Francisco and the Bay area include a wide range and diverse mix of publishers. City Lights is one of the oldest publishers in the Bay Area, and goes back to the Best Generation of the early fifties and sixties, having published books by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Here you will also find Chronicle Books (probably the largest trade book publisher on the west coast), Parallax Press (publisher for Thich Naht Hanh), Berrett-Koehler, New World Library (exclusive publisher of the Joseph Campbell library), North Atlantic Books, McSweeney’s, Callisto, UC Press, and many more. Ignatius Press is here as well, one of Friesens’ long-time publishing partners serving the Catholic community. Ignatius has always been headquartered in interesting buildings, the most recent an old firehouse originally built in 1898 in San Francisco. I think it is accurate to say that the diversity of the Bay Area publishing community is indeed reflective of the culture and the people that live here.