On Five Leaves' young adult fiction side, Peters, the specialist library supplier of children's books is a great account. The Birmingham company orders in multiples, regularly, and rarely (if ever) does returns. It just sends in orders, receives them, pays up. No fuss. One of their staff approached us at our stall at the School Library Association, and again at the Branford Boase Award and invited us to visit. Yesterday a couple of people from Five Leaves did just that, and were met by managing director Carl McInerney and chief buyer Joe Chapman. They toured us round the place and sat down to discuss our young adult list, our covers, what they thought of us and how we could work better together. Five Leaves publishes 3-5 young adult books a year, and two senior staff in a multi-million pound business set aside a couple of hours of their time to talk to what must be one of the smallest accounts they have. Impressed.
Impressed at seeing their showroom, which brings together more books for young people than can be seen anywhere in Britain. Impressed at seeing the information their ten librarians send out to their public and school library accounts (this included seeing some of their non-public reviews of our books, which felt a bit like hearing someone talk about you further down the bus; like the bus passenger, they say what they think). Impressed at the firm's independence. Peters is an indie, and its selectors and librarians are encouraged to ignore discounts, ignore the reputation of the publisher, and to buy and recommend according to the value of the book in front of them.
The number of library suppliers in the UK has been falling steadily, mostly into the hands of book wholesalers, while local authorities move into buying consortia and competitive tendering. For all our sakes Peters deserves to keep winning the tenders, and building their direct sales to local authority School Library Services.
And we were impressed to see a big poster of the MD with Alan Gibbons under the banner of the Campaign for the Book.