‘Underdog’ looks to become a champion for Christian product.
Eric Kampmann has been in the book business for 40 years, 11 of which in the sales departments of major publishers. Back in 1995, Kampmann and two others decided to get into the distribution business by starting Midpoint Trade Books.
Midpoint is what Kampmann calls “an aggregator of 250 publishers,” doing $12 million in sales for publishers and authors who contract with the company. Now Kampmann is expanding Midpoint to include Christian publishers and authors. He picked up 10 to 15 small publishers when Send The Light Distribution (STL) closed this year and 45 from Partners Book Distributing, which closed in April.
“I want to do for the Christian market what I’ve been able to do for the trade market,” says Kampmann. “I want to intentionally provide Christian authors the possibility of reaching a much wider market than they can do on their own.”
Midpoint helps authors and publishers tap into online, chain, and independent bookstores via its distribution network. It has relationships with Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor, and Amazon as well as with independent stores and chains through Lifeway, Parable, Munce, and Logos.
Some relationships are direct, others indirectly through Ingram. Midpoint stores its books at the Ingram distribution center in Tennessee, and is eager to add more Christian publishers and authors to the company’s roster.
“The fundamentals are all in place,” says Kampmann. “Now we need the inventory— titles and authors—because we haven’t been thought of as a premier Christian distributor. But I think I can play a part.”
This is more than a business decision for Kampmann. He describes a conversion experience in his mid 40s and years of getting to know the Bible through following a lectionary and everyday engagement with Scripture. He wrote Getting to Know Jesus: An Invitation to Walk with the Lord Day by Day, which he published through Beaufort Books and distributes through Midpoint. He’s considering starting a publishing imprint for Christian books as well.
“I feel like I’m in a good position to open up the Christian division of Midpoint for authors and publishers to the Christian and trade marketplaces,” says Kampmann. “I want to provide an extremely professional approach to publishing and distribution, to help them spread their words much further than through the traditional self-publishing models.”
POISED FOR GROWTH
Kampmann and Midpoint are ready to grow. “This isn’t something I was dreaming about five years ago, but the Christian part of my life and my career in New York and publishing are colliding,” he says.
Five years from now, he’d like Midpoint “to be a leader and strong in the Christian market. I think I can play a part in changing the landscape. There are a lot more authors out there who are competent and should be heard. I want Midpoint to be part of giving them voice through publishing and distribution.”
Kampmann calls himself the David to the big distributors’ Goliaths. “I’m always best when I’m an underdog,” he says.