Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Indiebound crawling toward the 21st century


Well, sorta kinda. It's in development, but like the Afghan/Iraq war pullout.

If you look in the Little Store you'll see a bunch of funky links. They're supposed to help you find independent bookstores that carry my books.

Weirdly enough, if they're for books without ISBNs, I've managed to -- well -- hack them so that they work. I've had to create a known non-existent ISBN to make the link work (Everybody who works with me knows I'm the one finds the back doors on sites and does everything that -- to quote Joey Manley at Webcomicsnation -- the site isn't supposed to be able to do).

If the books HAVE ISBNs they don't work. Yet. I could use the fake ISBN, but I don't want to cause a problem to avalanche through the internet or bookstore systems. These things are messy enough.

The fake links take you to the bookstores where they say they don't have the books, but they have an email link for you to ask how to get them. Which is, of course, to send them back to me. So the bookstore can get them. Which they could do directly, but I don't work with the old warehouse systems, and because they haven't figured out how to work with the 21st-century systems, everything's all confused.

Everybody feeling like Alice down through the looking glass yet?

Now before we start pointing fingers at Indiebound, let's see what they're up against.

Part of this is because the books have to be registered with the American Book Association, or Booksense, and they are still hand-entering books. At the ABA they have one guy -- ONE GUY! -- who has to hand-enter any info an author or company emails him. Barnes and Noble still hand-enters. That's practically 1950's!

You'd think they'd figure out how to make secure entry sites so publishers or authors could enter all this complicated stuff and the art for the book covers. Bowker -- the ISBN people -- has had that up and running for years. Nobody's using their model? It's nice and secure, and even the authors get to rise and fall on their own data. It lists all the distributors and direct orders and no retailer has to wander around looking for the books. What gets me is, why isn't Indiebound linking to Bowker as the homesite for ISBN's? Why all the extra steps? For that matter, is Lulu.com linking directly to Bowkerlink automatically whenever one of their publishers uses an ISBN?

Bowker invented the damn numbers -- why is everybody acting like they don't exist? What's going on here?

(I'm beginning to get a sinking feeling I may be the only person who knows all the sides and sites of this situation. I could fix it... I only work for $80.00 an hour. That would be CHEAP.)

And then there's Amazon. Amazon is hilarious --- Booksurge locked into being their only POD company -- but anybody can order from Booksurge at customersupport@booksurge.com for the same or better rates Amazon gets! Did Amazon ever get screwed. Another rickety company: Baker and Taylor still sends purchase orders ON PAPER -- and claims they didn't get books when UPS can show the tracking and delivery dates!

Anyway, this bookstore link feature is in development at the Indiebound.org home site, and. But when it is up and running, it will fulfill what is -- hopefully -- predicted at the Little Store:

"Find an independent bookstore near you. If your bookstore doesn't carry the book, tell them to head to this page -- or contact the author or publisher directly at donnabarr at hotmail dot com. Direct distribution through mulitiple sources. Request autographed copies, or autographed labels. Help support your local bookstore!"

I'll alert all retailers and customers once Indiebound has made my books searchable on their site. We're working on it! It's a big site and it's pretty old-fashioned, publisher-wise, but with a little help we may be able to bring it into the 21st century. Geeky friends encouraged to go help these folks!

In the meantime, head to Lulu and get all the new books, and the Little Store for the old books.

I'VE dicked this. What's wrong with everybody else?


Jason said...

Umm.. Amazon owns Booksurge. How exactly are they getting screwed?

Donna Barr said...

Because while Amazon cannot take books from any other POD company -- any reader or retailer can order directly from Booksurge. Amazon is locked in -- Booksurge is not.