How Ingram Transformed the Book World

How Ingram Transformed the Book World

I picked up a copy of Keel Hunt’s book The Family Business because I’ve spent much of my career in publishing and have always been curious about Ingram, a company based in Nashville, my hometown. I figured the book was a corporate vanity-press effort and wasn’t expecting much.

Several hours later I found myself obsessively turning pages, captivated by Ingram’s remarkable journey, one that continues to evolve at breakneck speed.

Ingram started in 1928 as a barge company, shifted to manufacturing, and in 1964 stumbled into publishing—not creating books or selling books but something, literally, in between. It seemed that the companies at both ends of the book world—publishers and retailers—interacted awkwardly and inefficiently. Bronson Ingram recognized that a smart, helpful go-between could make life easier for both, and step by step over the next several decades he did just that, in the process literally transforming the publishing business.

When Bronson died, his wife Martha and their children took over the business and ran with it. One son in particular, John Ingram, has thoughtfully guided the company into the digital age through a series of breathtaking moves and leaps, until today’s Ingram Content Group, which would barely be recognizable to Bronson, is more important than ever in the world of books.

If you think of publishing as just writing, printing, and selling books, let Keel Hunt take you on a tour of Ingram. You will be amazed.

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