Ingram Blog

Get to Know (Y)our Collection Development Team: Wils Smithwick

Throughout his childhood, Wils was an avid reader, a practice he inherited from his dad. He counts Tom Swift and series such as The Hardy Boys among books he cherished as a boy. But biographies and history were his favorites, and, to this day, still are. Wils also loves audio fiction because, he says, hearing the story helps listeners draw pictures of the story.

In college, Wils majored in theatre and reveled in the diversity and creativity of his fellow students. After graduating, he worked in the food industry, then as a bookseller, a position he remained in for a decade.

Eventually, destiny brought him to Ingram. And in the 25 years since, Wils has held 5 different positions: Warehouse Associate, Customer Service Representative, Outside Sales & Support Representative, Library Customer Service Rep, and, beginning around 2005, Program Administrator for Collection Development.

What is your role in Collection Development?

I oversee Travel Continuations, like Fodor’s, and Nonfiction Stand Alone Titles, like test prep guides.

What are some changes you’ve seen in your position over the last 15 years?

iPage was the biggest change. Before that, we had to enter data manually – title code, quantity, offering, ISBN/EAN -- and then order the book. iPage has made my work much more streamlined and efficient.

How have you made your position your own?

Well, I feel I have some influence in the addition of new titles to the Travel Continuations and Nonfiction Continuations standing order programs. We don’t include debut authors or series in our standing order programs, so I only select those titles and authors with some history and continuity. Selecting on that basis requires research and judgement.

Can you talk a little about how Travel Continuations and Nonfiction Continuations have changed over the years?

Without a doubt, there was major change after 9/11. Many publishers ceased titles, especially those for international destinations. People suddenly stopped travelling abroad, and demand for out-of-US locations rapidly declined.

Even today, almost 20 years after 9/11, we still haven’t returned to a pre-9/11 quantity of titles. Frommer’s for example, use to include about 400 titles; now, there are about 110 titles. Publishers often postpone titles they don’t cancel outright, pushing them out by months, and we’re seeing this trend again with Covid-19.

Major cities are still big travel destinations, so, think New York City, London, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo. Younger audiences seem to gravitate to the Lonely Planet series, because they’re published in color and, maybe because they began in the late 1960s/early 1970s as Indy-type title, they specialize in more off-the-beaten path, bohemian influenced places. And, then, not surprisingly, study guides are still hugely popular.

What have you learned in your role?

I’ve learned the names of countries I never knew existed. I love that I can continually learn geography and geopolitics on the job.

What do you enjoy most about being a Standing Order Program Administrator?

I enjoy the people I work with, from everyone here in Collection Development to the sales reps. Publishers are great to work with, too. I appreciate being able to stay ahead of the curve in terms of publishing, always knowing what will be released -- months prepublication. And I love getting galleys from publishers! Another wonderful perk of working for Ingram are the author appearance/luncheons we host.

What would you like customers to know about Ingram?

Ingram really keeps on top of things within the industry. We stay current, and we’re proactive in determining trends.

What would you like to say to customers?

Keep reading! It’s not a dying art form, and it’s never going away.