Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How Much Buzz Could a Bookstore Build?

One downside I had to consider when signing with namelos was that my books likely wouldn't be available in physical bookstores.  Bookstores "buy" books only in the most fickle sense of the word.  They pay for them with the caveat that if the books don't sell they can return them at any time and expect to be repaid even when the money is tied up in the next book(s) in the publisher's pipeline. Bookstore returns can bankrupt smaller publishers--and, even worse--the returned books are usually destroyed.

With print-on-demand (POD) that isn't an issue.  Books are only printed when they are wanted, and they're printed fast.  I've purchased namelos books with Amazon Prime and they arrived two days later: professionally designed, attractive, and tightly bound (I got to enjoy the first crackle of opening a brand-new book--I adore that!).   Since books can be made so quickly yet professionally via POD (truly, I challenge you to tell the difference) it seems to me that's the way they should all be made.  For a struggling industry in a strained economy it makes no sense to pour money down the drain on ginormous print runs that don't always pan out with sales. Really.  But I guess that's the house that buzz built, huh?  Bookstores won't build buzz unless they can buy books with the eternal option to return them.  Oooh, tongue twister: How much buzz could a bookstore build if a bookstore could buzz books? Ahem, sorry, tangent--but! Bookstores can't return POD books, soooo--no bookstores for us!

Unless, of course, we do what these guys are doing.  Take a look, it's brilliant.  With big chains struggling along (when they're not dropping like flies) who knows how much longer there will even be places that have room to carry more than one copy of any book?  I can see this idea working out well with cozy indie bookstores, in particular.  I love the flexible minds exploring new ways to make things work in a changing industry.  *Clink*  To flexible minds!

 ------Hey, don't forget this contest, ending Monday! :D --------


  1. I really like this post. I know that before I got into the biz I didn't know that bookstores returned their books. I can see how hard it would be to get your book on the shelf when you self publish. Good luck. and man oh man I love Indie bookstores

  2. I don't think many people outside of the publishing industry realize that about bookstores, Erica. It is a strange practice, really.

    I think self publishing would be way more work than I would want to do. I'm happy with my choice, despite the iffiness of the bookstores. :)

    Thanks for the good luck!


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