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25 July 2023

25 years experience in the book supply chain

After The Learning Network, Selexyz and Bruna, Michel is now International Sales Manager at CB. A role which is ideally suited to his knowledge of the playing field. He started his career as an temp in the Bruna warehouse. Although this was a temporary job, his fascination for the book trade remained. "The Netherlands is becoming increasingly interesting for international publishers looking for European distribution."

In his 25 years in the industry, Michel has worked for several players in the chain. For Bruna for example, a familiar name to everyone in the sector. And for bookstore chain Selexyz, educational service provider The Learning Network and Van Dijk, specialised in (digital) teaching materials. This taught him the complexity of the (international) book trade. "There are many parties involved, each with different interests. You need to understand how the links in the book supply chain work, what is important to publishers and what their challenges are."

"CB reaches agreements with international publishers on the one hand and Dutch booksellers on the other. For each logistic issue, we have a toolkit of solutions. Such as Print on Demand and Short Print Runs for example. We help retailers, both physical and online, to provide an optimal service to their customers. Our close-knit network covers the entire sector: from big online retailers to small web shops and high street stores. International publishers can join that network via CB's services."

Creating metres together

Michel has always been customer focused. And he recognises this trait among his colleagues at CB. "I notice that the customer - whether that's the publisher or bookstore - is always key in the decisions we take and the solutions we develop." Michel had encountered CB in the field. "I've always found it a nice organisation. The volumes are impressive, but the cooperative idea also appealed to me. Doing smart business, without losing sight of the commercial interest. That's an approach I feel very much at home with. In close cooperation with the international publishers and Dutch booksellers, we can cover a lot of ground."

International service provision

"CB has a very interesting range of services for international publishers, enabling them to have their books in stock in the Netherlands or have them produced fast." Michel is keen to talk about the benefits of working with CB. For example, at international trade fairs such as the London Book Fair. “I know from experience that success in the international book supply chain doesn't come easily. You need to reach the right agreements and follow them up. CB offers speed, sustainability, a European market and the opportunity for booksellers to buy everything from one party."

However, CB not only has the ambition to enter new collaborations but also to continue providing a good service to existing customers and to expand those partnerships. "Expansion can be achieved in the number of titles, but also with our POD services. Parties such as Sage and Springer use these services."

English language books as growth market in the Netherlands

After 25 years in the work field, Michel still describes the book trade as "a wonderful profession".
"I can fulfil my ambitions here, but also my desire to constantly learn and try new things." He also sees lots of opportunities for publishers in the Dutch market. Take the field of English language books for young people, for example. As a father of three teenage sons, he finds that as an activity, reading gets lots of competition once children get older. "My boys are full of energy and busy at school, with sports and their social lives. So, it's fantastic that the Young Adults category is inspiring young people to read more - and in English to boot! That's a great opportunity for bookstores. I'd love CB to be able to contribute to that, together with international publishers and Dutch booksellers. Thanks to our services, we could do that without long delivery times, Customs formalities or sky-high shipping costs. There is still plenty to gain in that field."