Posts Tagged ‘bookstore’

New Bookshop Coming to the Net

Screen Shot 2020-01-20 at 8.49.30 AMI was excited to learn that this month, the new will launch. Right now, you can get information, but this promises to soon be a site for independent bookstores to compete with Amazon that will offer authors, book reviewers, and bookstores affiliate status, paying 10% on books sold through affiliate links. A portion of sales also goes to affiliated bookstores, and books will be sold at a discount (maybe not as steep as Amazon’s, but not bad) through Ingram. What’s not to like.

Of course, bookstores can still sell books online through their own websites or through Both Bookshop and IndieBound are organized by the American Booksellers Association, who offers IndieCommerce and IndieLight e-commerce services to bookstores who want to set up online stores hosted through ABA.

The exciting thing for authors and book reviewers is that they will be able to direct link to a page for a book using an affiliate code. This isn’t possible on IndieBound because you first have to choose your bookstore before buying books. On Bookshop, the affiliate link will determine who gets a percentage of the sale and all fullfillment goes through Ingram, rather than through local bookstores. Processing should also be quicker. You will also be able to sign up to receive newsletters or other information from your local store (based on your zip code), thereby establishing a stronger relationship with local customers for the stores. And stores can set up minimalist web pages about themselves on the site. Customers should also have a user-friendly experience, including a mobile app (judging from the image of a phone on the site).

Everything is supposed to launch in January 2020, so I’m hopeful the site will be live soon. I’ve signed up for the Bookshop newsletter, so I should know as soon as it goes live and I can sign up as an affiliate and link my books to the site.

Why Read in Bookstores?

IMG_0217It might seem like an odd question, but it’s one I’ve been thinking about as I drive around Mississippi to readings and signings. Bookstores would seem like the logical choice — and they are, though I’ve also read at colleges, libraries, etc. Recently I heard a talk by a publicist who said she tried to get her authors speaking engagements anywhere but in bookstores, and maybe with good reason. Bookstores usually don’t pay an honorarium, and books sold at other events are often sold by the author directly, so there’s a bigger profit margin. So I get her point, but…

I’m still more than happy to drive a few hours to a bookstore at my own expense, give a reading and sign books for awhile, all without seeing any direct profit, only that eventual royalty check. So why do it?

First, I’m a poet, so if I were in this for the money, you ought to question my sanity. Of course, I want my books to break even and even garner a profit, but my expectations in that regard are fairly low. So if it’s not about the money, what is it about?

One answer is that it’s about getting books into people’s hands. We write to be read (and we hope to earn enough through writing to make it more than just an expensive hobby). Bookstores are where people who love books hang out. It seems like a logical place to find people who might want to buy your book!

Another answer (still thinking about the economics of it) is that sales in the store during a reading/signing are just the tip of the iceberg. A bookstore reading does a number of things. It gets the store to order  your books and gets them to put up a notice about your reading. Your book is featured for a time. More people will see it, pick it up, and maybe buy a copy. Often by the time I get to a store, someone has already made a purchase.

You can post on social media about every signing, and usually the stores do, too. People see you as an active, interesting writer who goes to bookstores. And finally, when you’re at the store signing books, if the store will allow it, sign some more so they can sell signed copies later. These can’t be returned to the publisher, so they are books the store is essentially committing to sell. Even if only a few people show up to a reading or only a few buy a book while you’re there, you’ve likely sold several more copies through that store.

Which brings me to the main reason I’m happy to give a signing or reading in a bookstore: to support the store. Whether I sell a book or not, people will come into a store when there’s a reading, and they will buy books. Hosting readings, bringing authors to their public, is one of the roles a brick and mortar store can fulfill that the online megastores can’t. Having an author in their store promotes the store, and having live authors around helps promote reading. When I’m doing a signing, I talk to people about my book, but I also talk about books in general and about writing. Does it matter if they buy my book, if they are more likely to read a book?

In creative writing circles, we call this literary citizenship. It is part of taking part in the culture of writing and keeping that culture going by buying books, reading books, and writing about books. So if one person shows up or 100, connecting with each person, whether they buy my book or not, is important. So is reading at libraries, book clubs, universities, book festivals, and anywhere else you can find. Some may earn you more money than others, and hopefully that all balances out in the end. But I will always be happy reading to an intimate crowd in a bookstore or signing books and talking to a few people about what I write.