Tuesday, November 4, 2008

And Dinosaurs are Extinct

I've been having a conversation with a guy on Facebook. He put together an "independent bookstore" group, and I happily posted my sites for getting books, including my POD contacts.

First of all, I adore little privately-owned stores. The big box places just can't compete with the ambiance.

Secondly, I am not directing this at comics shops, because YOU get it. YOU're in the 21st century, and you already know how to do this. There's a reason why more and more shops are getting shinier and nicer, and it's not just the girls buying manga (okay, so a lot of it is girls buying manga, but how is that a bad thing?).

I figured it would make privately-owned bookstores happy that they could get the books at near wholesale, including for specific customers I would be happy to drive toward their stores in their town. I can send "official dealer" labels to them as I do to my show representatives, and frequently-asked questions lists, anything to help them move product and make money for all of us.

The group owner got very angry about my promoting my books on the message board. I didn't understand why they wouldn't want all the author input they can get. I mean, these are the producers of the product they're pushing. New product could get new customers. Don't they want new customers? I know I do!

Then I got this line:

"We do not seek authors, authors seek book sellers."

These are those little brick-and-mortar self-owned stores who are screaming about Amazon. I think the guy might have been angered because I have those Amazon ads on this site, and Amazon is eating their lunches. There's a reason Amazon is stealing their cupcakes:

These must be the people who want to sit in their little store and pick put lists from publications they know, and send books back to be shredded if they can't sell them. Never mind that this keeps book prices going higher and higher, as distributors demand huge markups and make both publishers and stores pay for shipping.

These prices are making POD competitive, especially when it makes it possible for a bookstore to order only what they need into their shop, to make any customer happy. The personal touch turns customers on. Why else do they come to signings and go to shows to see their favorite authors? Keeping the prices -- and the shipping -- down certainly would have customer appeal?

Wouldn't the very private nature of an indie bookstore make it possible for an owner to deal with the authors -- more of them all the time, including the biggies -- who are building on-line customer bases? With it so easy to make promotional materials, an author and a bookstore working together could shedule all sorts of wonderful events?

A breakdown between the stores and the authors -- there's the problem. Amazon makes it possible (well, more possible -- I don't want to give them THAT many points) for authors to move book on their site and talk directly to the customers. And drive in customers in the first place.

It can't be that hard for the indie bookstores to do that? Surely they have laptops and dsl?


Dave B. said...

Traditionalists in the publishing field are ridiculous, as though the "publishing" of the last few decades is a centuries-old tradition not to be trifled with. They confuse the existence of BOOKS as the same as the industry of PUBLISHING. And they define publishing as whatever it was when they were kids growing up, not as anything actually THAT time-honored. 'S why they're dying. But right now everyone's dying. At APE Con everyone was stunned at how little they were able to sell. Nobody could buy things without credit, and most couldn't accept credit. And credit aside, fans didn't have money to spend period, ephemeral or not. The whole kaboodle is moving toward an overhaul...

Donna Barr said...

We need to talk to ccnow.com about credit at shows. They've never offered anything but their excellent on-line credit service, but they keep upgrading their site, so perhaps we should check. Nothing freezes on the net (well, sometimes, but that's a server problem).