Magazine Distribution

Magazine Distribution

We distribute magazines of high editorial content on Architecture, Arts, Crafts, Design, Film, Food, Literature, Photography, Poetry, Politics and other related subjects. We sell these to bookshops, gallery shops and other specialist shops around the world. We have 400 magazine outlets in the UK and 200 overseas.

Examples of outlets we supply:

In London; AA Bookshop, Artwords, Foyles, Housmans, ICA, London Review BookshopMagma, RIBA, Tate Modern and Tate Britain, and Walter Koenig

Outside of London; Arnolfini (Bristol), Magalleria (Bath), Ikon Gallery (Birmingham), Magazine Brighton (Brighton), Fruitmarket Gallery (Edinburgh), Aye Aye / CCA (Glasgow), News From Nowhere (Liverpool),  Home (Manchster) Five Leaves (Nottingham) and Tate Liverpool  and Tate St Ives.

We also sell to shops in the Europe, Australia, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Africa: Athenaeum (Amsterdam), Do you Read Me (Berlin), Books Upstairs (Dublin), Copyright Bookshop (Gent), Page One (Hong Kong), Robinson Crusoe Books (Istanbul), In Uteis Design LDA (Lisbon), Librairie Flammarion @ the Pompidou (Paris), World Magazines [Seoul], Basheer Graphic Books (Singapore)  and New Art Diffusion [Tokyo] 

  • We supply all the large book chains in the UK including Waterstones and Blackwells as well as the big gallery shops like the Tate Modern and Walther Koenig.  We also sell to many overseas outlets and wholesalers.
  • We aim to pool resources. We hold a data base of about 7,000 retailers of which over 600 take magazines and we can make relevant lists available to our client publishers.  
  • We supply our magazine publishers with all the information they need to assess their sales. Each month we will provide a sales report showing what we have distributed which includes the net of sales less returns.
  • Each month we email publishers a sales report showing which shops have a standing order for the magazine.
  • For those publishers that like to know what is happening every day we can provide access to a website www. that shows sales into every outlet by issue and is updated every 24 hours.
  • Our agreements are simple and avoid hidden extras.
  • Our spread of publishers means that we have no dominant customer. We are happy to put you in touch with current publisher clients so you can get their views about us.     
  • Every year we produce a magazine catalogue covering every title we distribute.
  • Our service to bookshops and all other customers is speedy and reliable. But check on our reputation and service by getting in touch with booksellers.
  • We handle over 200 magazines. All the periodicals we distribute have a strong editorial content rather than being advertising led.
  • Our standard arrangement is to give a simple percentage of net sales to the publisher, payment on 105 days. [The percentage a publisher gets will be at least 40% of the cover price and usually 45%].
  • We send out new issues ever week to all retailers that have a regular order. We provide an efficient and accurate service to the retailers. We top up retailers when they sell out of current issues promptly (do ask them what they think of our service).
  • We believe that magazines find new subscribers and convince advertisers to advertise through the display and selling of magazines in our retail outlets.


If you would like us to consider your magazine for distribution please fill in the form below our list of answers to commons queries . You can  click here to skip these Q&A’s but if at all possible please read them before asking us directly. We are happy to take questions but the answers we give will be much more taylored if you have looked at thes Q&A's. 

Answers to questions often asked by magazine publishers

Question:    Does Central Books distribute magazines with smaller print runs?

Answer:    Central definitely distributes small print run magazines and journals.


Question:    Are there any up-front costs when using Central Books?

Answer:    There are no up-front or even hidden costs with Central Books other than printing the copies and delivering them to our warehouse. We take a percentage of what we sell. We do offer display at book fairs and image entries in our catalogue but the publisher always decides if they want to pay for these extras. There is a supply chain into Waterstones that involves a per shop charge, when this is available it is the publisher choice to join the scheme.


Question:    What happens to returns?

Answer:    If your magazine retails at less than £10.00 then shops only have return covers for credit. Over £10.00 they have to return the whole copy. We want shops to sell magazines and feel they will not have trouble getting credit when they return unsold copies. So we have a flexiable approach, if a shop returns 3 copies of a £11 magaizne and one is damaged we usual credit them all. We offer mroe flexibility to overseas shops. It is better to get an outlet and lose  te odd unsold copy than lose an outlet. 


Question:    Can a publisher pay to recall whole reusable unsold copies of their magazine?

Answer:    We do not have a mechanism for paying retailers to return whole copies of a magazine.


Question:    What happens to back copies in our warehouse?

Answer:    In time we either pulp or return to publishers the leftover back copies. 


Question:    How many copies will a magazine sell?

Answer:    The real answer is that we do not know how many copies a magazine will sell but we can give educated guesses. The important thing to remember is that our outlets choose what magazines they stock and how many copies they order. Most shops that do order a title will return an issue for credit when they get the following issue, that is when we find out how many have sold. In the past publishers seeking distribution have asked what might be the average sale per country supplied. We really can not meaningfully answer this question.  


Question: Once signed up with Central Books can a publisher sell copies themselves.

Answer: We expect to be your sole distributor in a defined market. For example, it might be bookshops and gallery shops in Europe. So publishers can handle orders outside this area and publishers can handle any subscription orders. Central Books does not normally handle subscriptions. We can connect publishers to subscription services and help with mailing out subscriptions but we do not expect to handle or promote subscriptions. 


Question: If a publisher finds out about a potential outlet that does not have an account with Central Books what can be done.

Answer: We are always happy to start up new accounts for retailers. For some of the titles on our magazine list this has proved very important. We try to respond to all leads that publishers supply.


Question: How can I assess the likelihood of Central Books distributing my magazine?

Answer:  We get about 20 titles a month asking for magazine distribution and we probably say yes to 2 or less a month. Take a look at our magazine list If your magazine clearly falls within one of the subject areas covered we are more likely to offer to distribute. In some subject areas like art and literature we distribute a large number of magazines, if your magazine stands out and covers a part of the subject area not covered by others, we are more likely to offer distribution. For selling magazines in shops the design and feel really matter but cannot be substitute for poor content.  Take a hypothetical example in poetry magazines (there are almost an infinite number available), if one poetry magazine (we will call it Poet’s Eye) is beautifully laid out or eye catching and has great poems but not that many poems whilst another (we will call it Poet’s Best) has the very best poems published in English that month but is stacked full of 100’s of poems in crowded pages with nothing but text. Then the Poet’s Eye will outsell Poet’s Best in shops, we might not offer Poet’s Best a distribution contract but we will Poet’s Eye. This is all despite the fact that the editorial choice of great poetry in Poet’s Best is ahead, the problem is that the magazine does not invite the reader in the right way. We might say that editorial is about engagement choices as well as the quality of writing. 


Question: Does Central Books distribute magazines to WH Smiths, Tescos, Sainsburys, Waitrose or other supermarkets.

Answer:   No, you need a newstrade distributor to get into WH Smiths, Tescos, Sainsburys, Waitrose or other supermarkets.


Question: Where does Central Books distribute magazines outside of the UK?

Answer: We are a specialist distributor, the overseas customers we supply are specialist too. The most outlets we have in a country outside of the UK would be in Germany and that is about 35. We have about 400 outlets that have both good magazine turnover and usually sell more than 1 magazine from our list. The following is based on that list of customers: -

  - we have a good number of outlets in the following countries Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. 
  - we supply a number of outlets in the Untited States and Canada but this is very patchy.
  - we aslo supply but less than a handful of shops in each these, sometimes only 1, South Africa, Austria, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finalnd, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Latvia, Lebanon, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey.
  - in some counties we have a handful of customers but these act as wholesalers and sell on to their own outlets, We do not know who they sell to; Japan, Korea and India.

Our ideal aim is to have specialist outlets in each major cosmolpolitan city. So in smaller countries where this happens it may make sense just to have the 1 outlet.


Question: What will be the Distribution Strategy for our magazine

Answer: A publisher once asked this very logical question but perhaps one that looks at the market in a different way to us. Our Distribution Strategy is to have contacts with committed shops that sell specialist magazines rather than mainstream magazines. For many of these shops magazines are just part of what their shops sells.  We then try to work with these outlets, picking out what might fit from of our range of magazines with their way sense of their own shop. It is not a “distribution strategy” where we buy shelf space or coerce shops into stocking magazines that do not fit their own vision of their shop. 


If you would like us to consider distributing a magazine you are or will be publishing please complete the form below. We really recommend that you view these two web pages before completing the form below.



Categories: Magazine Publishers Information